Young people prefer paying for HIV test —Study

Experts in a study said young people will prefer paying a small amount compared to free testing and a blood-based HIV self-testing compared to facility-based HIV testing and oral HIV self-testing.

In the study, researchers had tried to assess preferences for HIV testing options among 113 youths aged 14 to 24            years residing in Nigeria. Most of them had at least secondary school educstion.

The survey included a series of hypothetical HIV testing options, made up of six characteristics centred around HIV testing service, including the location of testing, test administrator, mode of pre-test, mode of post-test counselling, type of HIV test, and cost of HIV test.

In this 2019 study published in the journal, BMC Health Service Research, participants were asked to select one of the options that they prefer or indicate ‘none of the above’ for each of these characteristics.

The study involved Dr Chukwujekwu Ezechi at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Lagos, in collaboration with Nwaozuru U, Iwelunmor J, Ong J.J, Salah S, Obiezu-Umeh C and Tucker J.D.

They reported a pronounced heterogeneity in HIV testing preferences among young people. Although most youths preferred free HIV testing, 14 (16.7 per cent) reported preferring paying a small amount compared to free testing. More youths preferred blood-based HIV self-testing 39(48.8 per cent) compared to facility-based HIV testing and oral HIV self-testing.

According to them, given that young people have a range of HIV testing preferences, a “one-size-fits-all” approach to delivering services to youth may be challenging in this context.

They added that HIV testing services can be optimized to reach young people if variety options are provided to meet their unique preferences.

Despite high HIV incidence rates among young people in Nigeria, less than 24 per cent of this population has ever tested for HIV. These low HIV testing rates suggest that current testing services may not align with their testing preferences.

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