February 10, 2005
A recent study by Tulane University international health researchers reveals that married men in Uganda are more likely to seek out HIV testing and counseling if they want to help their wife have a healthy pregnancy, if they have used needles for medical purposes or IV drug use, or if there is a known testing and counseling site nearby. Voluntary HIV testing and HIV counseling is one of the most important steps that people can take to help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, says the Tulane team.
"This is the first nationally representative study to look at the decision-making process of married African men," says lead author Anastasia Gage. "It confirms that men are likely to seek testing if they engage in behaviors they know put them at risk, such as paying for sex or using needles. But we also learned that concern for the health of people they love is a strong motivator."
Good communication between spouses and a high knowledge of HIV/AIDS also improved men's willingness to get tested. Uganda was one of the countries affected early by the AIDS epidemic but the country has had success in controlling the spread of AIDS through widespread promotion of safe sexual behaviors. As a result, infection rates decreased from 22 percent of adults in the early 1990s to eight percent of adults, Gage says.
"Increasing the rates of voluntary testing and counseling can only help to reduce the spread of HIV even further," Gage says.
Gage concludes that increasing the number of testing sites by adding testing services to health clinics, particularly in the northern and rural areas, and communicating about the risks of HIV to older married men could improve testing and counseling rates in Uganda.
Researchers analyzed data from 1,167 married men between the ages of 15 and 59 who participated in the 2000-01 Uganda Demographic and Health Survey. Results are available in the February 2004 edition of the journal AIDS Care.
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