More Youth in East Africa Seeking HIV Tests
October 15, 2002
As East Africa AIDS experts encourage more young people to seek voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) for HIV, a new study conducted by the Population Council in Uganda and Kenya says that they have a key ally -- the youth themselves. "More than 75 percent of untested youths in Kenya and about 90 percent in Uganda say they would like to be tested," according to the report. Furthermore, "of the youth who have already had an HIV test, a similarly large number (74 percent in Kenya and 84 percent in Uganda) say that they intend to have a repeat test." The study involved a total of 572 youths ages 14 to 21, of whom 240 had undergone an HIV test in Nairobi, Kampala and Masaka, Uganda. The conclusions of the report are especially encouraging for HIV experts in Kenya, site of a massive media campaign to encourage more people to seek VCT.
AIDS experts say that the acceptance of VCT among youth is especially critical given the epidemiology of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa: 60 percent of all new infections occur among people ages 10 to 24. According to the study, at least 90 percent of Ugandan youths who had obtained an HIV test reported having been counseled. In contrast, only 58 percent of Kenya's youth who had obtained an HIV test said they had been counseled, with 23 percent saying they were given their test results in writing while 8 percent obtained their results through their parents, indicating that confidentiality had been breached. According to the study, "When groups of untested and tested youths were surveyed about which factors they think prohibit other young people from seeking HIV tests, more than 85 percent in Kenya cited lack of confidentiality or fear of someone finding out." Still others, experts said, were discouraged from testing because their families cannot afford antiretroviral treatment. "What is the use of knowing that you are HIV-positive when you can't do anything about it?" one youth wondered. "I'd rather not know until the end."
Africa News Service
10.07.02; East African
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.