HIV Testing: What barriers are the youth facing?

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By Adebola Aduwo

11/01/2019

What are some of the barriers that are preventing young people from testing for HIV? Adebola Aduwo from Nigeria takes a closer look at some of the challenges.

Although HIV testing and counselling services have expanded globally, its uptake still falls below expectation in many low and middle-income countries. This can be attested to a number of factors which I would classify as psychological and structural barriers. In this article, I’ll be highlighting some of the factors that influence low HTC uptake.

Confidentiality Concerns

The inability of health workers to maintain confidentiality reduces the willingness to seek help. Honestly, no one would want to have their business out there. This can also cause psychological harm as patients are exposed to embarrassment and distress. HIV is an extremely sensitive issue as should be treated as such. To drastically reduce the occurrence of confidentiality breaches, health workers need to be thoroughly tutored on physician-patient relationship and the importance of creating a trust-filled environment. What happens in the clinic should remain in the clinic.

Fear

This is the most common barrier to HIV testing. HIV is globally known to be one of the most common pandemics associated with high levels of stigmatization and discrimination. HIV positive individuals are still treated irrationally. Little wonder an alarming percentage of individuals would rather remain undiagnosed. What you don’t know cannot kill you, yes? Well, this is certainly not the case when it comes to HIV. The perceived reaction to being seen taking a test and the fear of being labelled as an HIV positive individual has to grow to be of greater importance than being aware of one’s status. This is where proper awareness and sensitization comes to play. Forget about what people think, your sexual health is important. The only way to know your status is to get tested. Testing allows for early diagnosis and timely introduction to antiretroviral treatment. Make informed choices, stay confident and challenge misconceptions, negative views and stigmatizing attitudes towards HIV.

Limited accessibility/proximity to sexual health clinics

It is quite surprising to know that there are no sexual health clinics in some communities. Limited access to these clinics can deter individuals from getting tested and utilizing counselling services. The government has a role to play in resolving this issue in order to significantly increase HTC uptake. Also, have you heard about the HIV self-testing kit? This exceptionally innovative approach was created for comfort. If you fall into the category of individuals living in communities with limited access to testing facilities, HIVST is a great option for you.

Negligence

I have had conversations with people who think HIV testing is unnecessary because they are not sexually active or because they never fail to use protection. If you have adopted this line of thought, I’ll like you to discard it ASAP! HIV can be transmitted via various other channels. And you should know that HIV testing and counselling services ultimately help you live responsibly, positively and teaches you how to accept those living with the virus.

You should totally get tested today! Do you know any other reasons that hinder individuals from utilizing HIV testing and counselling services? Join the conversation below and share them with us.


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jade

We need to constantly unpack a lot of what we have been taught about HIV, really.

Keep educating us, Adebola. 👏.

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