Factors affecting HIV counselling and testing among adults in Muheza District, Tanzania
HIV/AIDS is one of the major public health problems affecting people worldwide. Counselling and testing is a process by which an individual undergoes confidential counselling to enable him/her to make an informed choice about his or her HIV status and to take appropriate actions. The objective of this study was to assess factors affecting HIV counselling and testing (HCT) among adults in Muheza district in north-eastern Tanzania. A total of 394 adults were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire. The majority of the study participants were females (N=213; 54.1%). Most of the respondents were either in or have completed secondary education. Almost two thirds of the study population (262) was not married. Seventy one percent of all participants viewed HCT positively. A significant proportion of married (17.7%) and un-married (16.5%) participants judged HCT as not essential as it would not change the test result. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents did not consider themselves at risk and most of them (71%) were married. Importantly, 26% reported being scared of discrimination. In conclusion our study results demonstrate that only half of the study population had adequate knowledge of HCT. Being married was considered as a ‘protective’ factor in terms HIV risk which indicates a misconception. These findings underscore the importance of proper HIV counselling and testing in this community so as to bridge the knowledge gap. It further demonstrates the need to address in detail misconceptions during HIV counselling and testing.