HIV testing in community based research: a case study of female genital schistosomiasis and HIV in the Volta Basin of Ghana
AbstractHIV testing is a major issue of concern in developing countries. This paper aims at documenting field experiences in regard to testing for HIV in a community- based research. Detailed protocol was followed and participation in the study was on voluntary basis. Focus group discussions
were held in study community. The study objectives were deliberated on and participants were informed of the procedures to be undertaken. Those who gave consent were then recruited for the study. A total of 331 volunteered to undergo further screening for genital schistosomiasis.
Vaginal swabs, cervical biopsy and blood was collected and tested for genital schistosomiasis, some common sexually transmitted infections and HIV. Female genital schistosomiasis prevalence found was 10.3%, Trichomonas vaginalis, 2.1%, Candida albicans, 9.6%, Gardnerella
vaginalis, 11.8% and HIV 6.6%. The study also showed that, the location of Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) services in rural communities in the Volta Basin were unavailable. The use of trained counselors from the governmental health facilities for field work was a challenge due to their heavy work load. It was also observed that the problem of fear and stigmatization still had a negative influence on opting for HIV testing. The authors recommend the scaling up of VCT services in rural communities through the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) initiative and NHIS scheme using the Maternal and Child Health service providers. The training of community leaders on HIV issues is also recommended as they occupy positions of influence and can impact positively on community-based HIV-related activities