HIV Voluntary Counseling and Testing for African Communities in London: Learning From Experiences in Kenya
January 2, 2008
The authors sought to explore the feasibility and acceptability of translating a voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) service model from Kenya to African communities in London. The qualitative study they designed included focus group discussions and a structured workshop with key informants.
Between August 2006 and January 2007, five focus group discussions were held in London with 42 participants from 14 African nations. Twenty-eight key informants attended a workshop. Recurrent themes were identified through analysis of the transcripts of the discussions and the workshop.
While participants indicated that a community-based HIV VCT service would be acceptable to African communities in London, they also identified several barriers to its use. These included HIV-related stigma, concerns about confidentiality, and doubts about the ability of community-based services to adhere to professional standards of care.
In the workshop, participants noted three key requirements to ensure feasibility: efficient referrals to sexual health services for persons newly diagnosed; a locally appropriate testing algorithm and quality assurance scheme; and a training program for VCT counselors.
The authors concluded that a community-based VCT offering rapid-result HIV testing appears feasible in a UK context and acceptable to African communities in London "provided that clients' confidentiality is ensured and appropriate support is given to the newly diagnosed. However, the persistence of concerns related to HIV-related stigma among African communities suggests that routine opt-out testing in health care settings may also constitute an effective approach to reducing the proportion of late diagnoses in this group. HIV service models and programs from Africa constitute a valuable knowledge base for innovative interventions in other settings, including developed countries."
Sexually Transmitted Infections
12.01.2007; Vol. 83; No. 7: P. 547-551; A. Prost; W.S. Sseruma; I. Fakoya; G. Arthur; M. Taegtmeyer; A. Njeri; A. Fakoya; J. Imrie
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