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Open Access Research article

Health service barriers to HIV testing and counseling among pregnant women attending Antenatal Clinic; a cross-sectional study

Golda Dokuaa Kwapong1, Daniel Boateng2*, Peter Agyei-Baffour2 and Ernestina A Addy2

Author Affiliations

1 The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)/Focus Region Health Projects, Accra, Ghana

2 Department of community Health, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:267  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-267

Published: 19 June 2014

Abstract

Background

HIV testing and counseling (HTC) remains critical in the global efforts to reach a goal of universal access to prevention and timely human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatment and health care. Routine HIV testing has been shown to be cost-effective and life-saving by prolonging the life expectancy of HIV patients and reducing the annual HIV transmission rate. However, these benefits of routine HIV testing may not be seen among pregnant women attending antenatal clinic (ANC) due to health facility related factors. This paper presents the influence of health facility related factors on HTC to inform HTC implementation.

Methods

The study was cross-sectional in design and used structured questionnaire and interview guides to gather information from 300 pregnant women aged 18 to 49 years and had attended ANC for more than twice at the time of the study. Twelve health workers were interviewed as key informants. Respondents were selected from the five sub metro health facilities in the Kumasi Metropolis through systematic random sampling from August to November 2011. Pregnant women who had not tested after two or more ANC visits were classified as not utilizing HTC. Data was analyzed with STATA 11. Logistic regression was run to assess the odds ratios at 95% confidence level.

Results

Twenty-four percent of the pregnant women had not undergone HTC, with “never been told” emerging as the most cited reason as reported by 29.5% of respondents. Decisions by pregnant women to take up HTC were mostly influenced by factors such as lack of information, perceptions of privacy and confidentiality, waiting time, poor relationship with health staff and fear of being positive.

Conclusions

Access to HTC health facility alone does not translate into utilization of HTC service. Improving health facility related factors such as health education and information, confidentiality, health staff turnaround time and health staff-client relationship related to HTC will improve implementation.

Keywords:
HTC; PMTCT; HIV; Pregnant Women; Ghana