The value of population campaigns offering free-of-charge HIV-testing: Observational study in a town in Cameroon

Knut Holtedahl, Leonard Bonono, Daniel Salpou
2009 Norsk Epidemiologi  
HIV testing is encouraged, but in many countries testing is rarely free of charge except during campaign periods. Aim: To study experiences from four years of campaign week for HIVtesting in the town of Ngaoundere, Cameroon. Data have been collected and recorded from handwritten protocols in 2001, from pre- and post-counselling sheets in 2002, and from laboratory protocols in 2003-4. Results: Seropositivity tended to increase with increasing age, female sex, number of sex<br />partners last
more » ... />partners last five years and with low educational level. Different dimensions of knowledge about HIV was associated with less seropositivity. One of five persons tested never came back to know their result, but seropositivity in this group was not higher than for those who returned. Overall HIV prevalence during the last three years of campaign testing was 9.0%, a little higher than WHO national figures for Cameroon. Conclusions: HIV campaigns including testing may stimulate interest and knowledge about HIV, which is important to lower HIV incidence. The HIV vulnerability of females was confirmed. Campaigns did not easily attract less educated persons, and campaign testing prevalence therefore could be expected to be lower than HIV prevalence in the local population. On the other hand, people with high risk behaviour may be over-represented, increasing campaign testing prevalence. Most symptomatic persons receiving a positive test did not come back for medical follow-up.
doi:10.5324/nje.v15i2.214 fatcat:upqkt3i6fbhsnmis4tllehsohq