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Changes over time in HIV testing and counselling uptake and associated factors among youth in Zambia: a cross-sectional analysis of demographic and health surveys from 2007 to 2018
Authors: Aime Bitakuya Heri, Francesca L. Cavallaro, Nurilign Ahmed, Maurice Mubuyaeta Musheke, and Mitsuaki Matsui
Source: BMC Public Health, DOI: 10.1186/s12889-021-10472-x
Topic(s): HIV testing
Service utilization
Country: Africa
Published: MAR 2021
Abstract: Introduction: Zambia is among the countries with the highest HIV burden and where youth remain disproportionally affected. Access to HIV testing and counselling (HTC) is a crucial step to ensure the reduction of HIV transmission. This study examines the changes that occurred between 2007 and 2018 in access to HTC, inequities in testing uptake, and determinants of HTC uptake among youth. Methods: We carried out repeated cross-sectional analyses using three Zambian Demographic and Health Surveys (2007, 2013-14, and 2018). We calculated the percentage of women and men ages 15-24 years old who were tested for HIV in the last 12 months. We analysed inequity in HTC coverage using indicators of absolute inequality. We performed bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses to identify predictors of HTC uptake in the last 12 months. Results: HIV testing uptake increased between 2007 and 2018, from 45 to 92% among pregnant women, 10 to 58% among non-pregnant women, and from 10 to 49% among men. By 2018 roughly 60% of youth tested in the past 12 months used a government health centre. Mobile clinics were the second most common source reaching up to 32% among adolescent boys by 2018. Multivariate analysis conducted among men and non-pregnant women showed higher odds of testing among 20-24 year-olds than adolescents (aOR = 1.55 [95%CI:1.30-1.84], among men; and aOR = 1.74 [1.40-2.15] among women). Among men, being circumcised (aOR = 1.57 [1.32-1.88]) and in a union (aOR = 2.44 [1.83-3.25]) were associated with increased odds of testing. For women greater odds of testing were associated with higher levels of education (aOR = 6.97 [2.82-17.19]). Education-based inequity was considerably widened among women than men by 2018. Conclusion: HTC uptake among Zambian youth improved considerably by 2018 and reached 65 and 49% tested in the last 12 months for women and men, respectively. However, achieving the goal of 95% envisioned by 2020 will require sustaining the success gained through government health centres, and scaling up the community-led approaches that have proven acceptable and effective in reaching young men and adolescent girls who are less easy to reach through the government facilities.