Background Despite significant advances in HIV programme implementation, uptake of HIV screening services remains notably low in rural areas. Most HIV screening centres are concentrated in urban areas resulting in low coverage of HIV testing services in rural communities. This paper analyses the outcome of community and facility based interventions to increase access and uptake of HIV screening services in rural and hard to reach population groups with limited access in Nigeria.
Methods In order to increase uptake of HIV screening services in rural communities, the MSH PrO-ACT project in collaboration with Kwara state ministry of health implemented the following interventions
Community awareness campaigns to increase knowledge about HIV transmission and prevention.
Community mobile HIV testing programmes which utilised existing community structures such as churches, empty school rooms and other community buildings were established to provide temporary HIV screening services.
Capacity of selected community members was built on HIV counselling and testing in order to increase the number of HIV screening workers.
HIV screening services were offered on communal market days to increase accessibility and uptake.
Referral linkages from HIV testing points to HIV clinics was strengthened to ensure that every client who tests positive accesses care and treatment services.
HIV screening services were integrated into maternity, family planning and sexually transmitted infection units of rural clinics to reduce stigmatisation and increase uptake.
Results After 12 months, 12,436 (Male- 3,616, Female- 8,820) people were screened for HIV. 405 persons tested positive and 397 persons (M-176, F- 82) were linked and enrolled into HIV care and treatment programmes. Out of this, 235 persons were eligible for anti-retroviral therapy and commenced treatment.
Conclusion Existing inequalities between urban and rural areas highlights the need to adopt innovative approaches aimed at increasing uptake of HIV screening services.
- HIV Care and treatment
- HIV screening
- sexually transmitted infections
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