Stigma, sexual risk and desire for HIV tests in Ghana

Type Journal Article - Sexual Health
Title Stigma, sexual risk and desire for HIV tests in Ghana
Volume 8
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2011
Page numbers 110-119
Although various HIV prevention and treatment programs have been implemented in Ghana since 2003, desire for and uptake of HIV testing is still low, owing largely to HIV-related stigma. This study examined the effect of stigma on desire for HIV testing, while controlling for socio-demographic and other influences. Method: The study used data from the 2003 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey to regress desire for an HIV test on levels of stigma while controlling for selected socio-demographic, socio-cognitive and socio-behavioural covariates. Results: The study revealed significant associations between several socio-demographic and socio-cognitive variables and the desire for an HIV test. For example, both male (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 0.41; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.24–0.72) and female (AOR = 0.62; 95% CI = 0.41–0.93) respondents in the wealthiest households, and those who know someone infected with HIV (AOR = 0.65; 95% CI = 0.43–1.00) have lower odds of desiring an HIV test. The study showed a significant but negative interaction between risky sexual behaviours and community stigma (AOR = 0.44; 95% CI = 0.19–0.67), indicating that the positive effect of risky sex on HIV testing is attenuated among females who live in communities with high levels of stigma. Conclusion: Since community-level education and risk reduction programs have demonstrable influences on reducing HIV stigma, it is imperative that the Ghana government’s ongoing anti-stigma campaigns and other HIV prevention programs recognise the role of community stigma in influencing HIV testing decisions, especially in the context of risky sexual behaviours.

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