HIV self-testing practices among Health Care Workers: feasibility and options for accelerating HIV testing services in Ethiopia
Introduction: HIV is still an enormous global burden and it is also causing loss of huge health care workers (HCWs) on the already limited human resource capacity in health care services in Sub-Saharan Africa. Variety of methods of accelerating HIV testing is required to increase the rate of HIV testing and expand treatment services. Therefore, this study was aimed to find out the prevalence, feasibility and options of HIV self-testing practices in Ethiopia. Methods: A cross-sectional study design triangulated with qualitative method was conducted from February to May, 2012. The data was collected using a semi-structured pretested questionnaire and in-depth interview, at government and private health centers or clinics and hospitals. During the data collection all the available healthcare workers (HCWs) which encompass the internship students including: Medical, Health Officer, Nurses, Midwives and Laboratory students, and health professionals working in the selected health institutions were involved. Results: A total of 307 HCWs were included in the analysis and we found that 288(94.4%) of them were ever tested for HIV, of which majority 203 (70.5%) were tested by themselves though 244(80%) of the HCWs had motivation or interest to be tested by themselves. Generally, of the ever tested only 85(29.5%) were tested by the help of health care providers/counselors other than self. Regarding the place where the HCWs had the test, majority 136 (69.4%) tested by themselves at the health facility and the rest were tested at their home, office, market and church. The main reason stated for self-testing was the need for confidentiality for the test result, which was mentioned by 205(82%). Moreover, 35(14.0%) claims lack of time to access the ordinary counseling and testing services. Conclusion: This study depicts high rate of HIV self-testing practice among HCWs. This shows that HIV self-testing can be considered as one pillar to increase the HIV-testing services and a means for the HIV prevention and control policy, through increasing HIV testing uptake and awareness of HIV status. However, the implementation may require the role of different stakeholders and decision makers with further study to extend the options.
Key words: HIV, VCT, self-test, health care workers, Ethiopia