Analysis Demography and Health Survey data finds there is a need for integration of HIV testing into routine antenatal care (ANC) services in order to increase opportunities for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programs to reach pregnant women in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Researchers from the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the UA Health Sciences analyzed data from four countries (Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda) in sub-Saharan Africa to explain the relationship between ANC services and HIV testing among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa.
The study, published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society, looked at demographic and health survey datasets, weighted crude and adjusted logistic regression models were used to explore factors that influenced HIV testing as part of ANC services.
Pooled results showed that 60.7 percent of women received HIV testing as part of ANC. Ugandan women had the highest rate of HIV testing as part of ANC (81.5 percent) compared with women in Mozambique (69.4 percent), Nigeria (54.4 percent) and Congo (45.4 percent). Difficulty reaching a health facility was a barrier in Congo and Mozambique but not Nigeria or Uganda. HIV testing rates were lower in rural areas, among the poorest women, the least educated and those with limited knowledge of HIV.
“One of the most important things we learned while conducting the study is that attention should be paid to the expansion of outreach services for women in rural settings, and to the training, supervision and integration of unskilled attendants into formal maternal and child health programs, said senior investigator, Dr. John Ehiri, professor and chair of the Department of Health Promotion Sciences. “Education of pregnant women and their communities is needed to increase HIV knowledge and reduce HIV stigma.”