Influence of social economic factors on uptake of couple voluntary counselling and testing services, a study of Meru municipality in Kenya
Mbwiria, Zachary K
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Since the first case of HIV in Kenya was diagnosed in early 1980, the control of HIV and AIDS remains a major challenge in Kenya. High prevalence of HI V with regional variations, low levels ofHN testing, HIV discordance within couple relationships and concurrent epidemics of other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) make the management of the HIVepidemic difficult and complex. Couples Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing (CVCT) services have increasingly been accepted as an effective public health tool for preventing new HIV infections particularly within HIV discordant couples. Over the past three years, Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation(MOPHS) through Provincial AIDS and STI Coordinating office(PASCO) has embarked on scaling up HIV counseling and testing and introduced CVCT services. Despite using various innovative health promotion techniques involving community outreaches, mass media and community peer educators, the uptake of the services is low. This study aimed at investigating and analyzing the influence of social economic factors on the uptake of CVCT services in Meru Municipality. The target population was 3276 married people aged 18-49 years in Meru Municipality. A representative sample of 344 people (men and women), 28 community health workers involved in community mobilization towards uptake of CVCT services, and 5 conveniently sampled discordant couples were studied. The study adapted descriptive research design. Questionnaire and in-depth interview were administered as key instruments to collect primary data from sampled population. The data was analyzed and presented through descriptive statistics, but for qualitative data detailed narrative was used to summarize data. The study established that the cultural beliefs and practices, and social and family support has greater influence to the Uptake of Couples Voluntary Counseling and testing services in Meru Municipality. Level of education and knowledge on HIV and AIDS, Level of income and accessibility to the testing centers contribute the least to uptake of Couples Voluntary Counseling and testing services. This study recommends that the government of Kenya, NGO and community based organizations to do more training of CHW and counselors, more mobilization and more awareness created on HIV/AIDS and CVCT. The study also recommends that community based organization engage on sensitization and outreaches to upscale CVCT services. This study recommends a further research on the challenges faced by CHW in mobilization of CVCT uptake, and in-depth research on gender role on uptake CVCT and HIV prevention.