Community stigma endorsement and voluntary counseling and testing behavior and attitudes among female heads of household in Zambézia Province, Mozambique

Abraham Mukolo, Meridith Blevins, Bart Victor, Heather N Paulin, Lara M E Vaz, Mohsin Sidat, Alfredo E Vergara
BMC Public Health 2013, 13: 1155

BACKGROUND: Some aspects of HIV-related stigma have been shown to be a barrier to HIV services uptake and adherence to antiretroviral treatment (ART). Distinguishing which domains of stigma impact HIV services uptake can enhance the efficacy and efficiency of stigma-reduction interventions.

METHODS: The relationships between use of voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services and two domains of community stigma identified through factor analysis, negative labeling/devaluation and social exclusion, were investigated among 3749 female heads of household. Data were from a general household survey conducted in rural Mozambique. Multivariable logistic regression outcomes were: lifetime VCT use, past-6-months VCT use and VCT endorsement.

RESULTS: Thirteen percent (13%) of the participants reported lifetime VCT use, 10% reported past-6-months VCT use and 63% endorsed VCT. A 25-point decrease (from 50 to 25) in the score for negative labeling and devaluation stigma was associated with increased lifetime VCT use (adjusted OR: 1.6, 95% CI: 1.1-2.3) and past-6-months VCT use (adjusted OR: 1.6, 95% CI: 1.1-2.4). A decrease from 50 to 25-points in the score for social exclusion stigma was associated with 1.5 and 1.3-fold increase in odds for past-6-months VCT use and endorsing VCT use, respectively (p < 0.001 for both). Compared with never-testers, considerably high endorsement of VCT use was observed among testers who did not receive HIV test results (adjusted OR: 2.7, 95% CI: 1.6-4.6) and much higher among testers who received results (adjusted OR: 7.3, 95% CI: 4.9-11.0). Distance from health facilities was associated with lower VCT use, but not lower endorsement of VCT.

CONCLUSIONS: VCT use and endorsement might differ by domains of stigma held by individuals in the community. Greater uptake and favorable disposition towards use of VCT services in rural settings might be achieved by addressing stigma via domain-specific interventions and by improving the proximity of services and the dissemination of HIV test results.

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