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HIV voluntary counselling and testing for African communities in London: learning from experiences in Kenya
  1. Audrey Prost (aprost{at}gum.ucl.ac.uk)
  1. MRC & University College London, United Kingdom
    1. Winnie Ssanyu Sseruma (wsseruma{at}gum.ucl.ac.uk)
    1. University College London, United Kingdom
      1. Ibidun Fakoya (ifakoya{at}gum.ucl.ac.uk)
      1. University College London, United Kingdom
        1. Gilly Arthur (gilly.arthur{at}camdenpct.nhs.uk)
        1. Camden PCT & University College London, United Kingdom
          1. Miriam Taegtmeyer (miriamt2000{at}yahoo.com)
          1. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
            1. Annrita Njeri (annrita{at}liverpoolvct.org)
            1. Liverpool VCT, Care & Treatment, Kenya
              1. Ade Fakoya (afakoya{at}aidsalliance.org)
              1. Newham General Hospital & International HIV/AIDS Alliance, United Kingdom
                1. John Imrie (j.imrie{at}unsw.edu.au)
                1. University College London, United Kingdom

                  Abstract

                  Objectives: To explore the feasibility and acceptability of translating a successful Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) service model from Kenya to African communities in London

                  Methods: Qualitative study with focus group discussions and a structured workshop with key informants. Five focus group discussions were conducted in London with 42 participants from 14 African countries between August 2006 and January 2007. A workshop was held with 28 key informants. Transcripts from the group discussions and workshop were analysed for recurrent themes.

                  Results: Participants indicated that a community-based HIV VCT service would be acceptable to African communities in London, but also identified barriers to uptake: HIV-related stigma, concerns about confidentiality, and doubts about the ability of community-based services to maintain professional standards of care. Workshop participants highlighted three key requirements to ensure feasibility: (a) efficient referrals to sexual health services for the newly diagnosed; (b) a locally appropriate testing algorithm and quality assurance scheme; (c) a training programme for VCT counsellors.

                  Conclusion: Offering community-based VCT with rapid HIV tests appears feasible within a UK context and acceptable to African communities in London, providing 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 healthcare settings may also constitute a valuable approach. HIV service models and programmes from Africa constitute a valuable knowledge base for innovative interventions in other settings, including developed countries.

                  • HIV
                  • Kenya
                  • United Kingdom
                  • health services
                  • qualitative research

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