Open Access Research article

Prevalence and barriers to HIV testing among mothers at a tertiary care hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Barriers to HIV testing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Yuri Sasaki1*, Moazzam Ali2, Vong Sathiarany3, Koum Kanal3 and Kazuhiro Kakimoto4

Author Affiliations

1 School of International Health, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Japan

2 World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

3 The National Maternal and Child Health Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

4 School of Nursing & Graduate School of Nursing, Osaka Prefecture University, Japan

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:494  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-494

Published: 18 August 2010



One-third of all new HIV infections in Cambodia are estimated to be due to mother-to-child transmission. Although the Ministry of Health adopted a policy of provider-initiated HIV testing and counseling (PITC), nearly a quarter of pregnant mothers were not tested in 2007. Greater acceptance of HIV testing is a challenge despite Cambodia's adoption of the PITC policy.


A hospital-based quantitative and cross-sectional survey was conducted to assess the prevalence of and barriers to HIV testing among mothers after delivery at the National Maternal and Child Health Center in Phnom Penh. The Center is one of the largest maternal and child care hospitals in the country to offer PITC services. All 600 eligible mothers who were admitted to the hospital after delivery from October to December 2007 were approached and recruited. Data were collected via a semi-structured questionnaire.


The prevalence of HIV testing among women who delivered at the hospital was 76%. In multivariate logistic regression, factors such as the perceived need to obtain a partner's permission to be tested (OR=0.27, 95% CI=0.14-0.51, p<0.01), the lack of knowledge about HIV prevention and treatment (OR=0.38, CI=0.22-0.66, p<0.01), and the lack of access to ANC services (OR=0.35, 95% CI=0.21-0.58, p<0.01) were found to be the main barriers to HIV testing.


To achieve greater acceptance of HIV testing, counseling on HIV prevention and treatment must be provided not only to mothers but also to their partners. In addition, utilization of non-laboratory staff such as midwives to provide HIV testing services in rural health facilities could lead to the greater acceptance of HIV testing.