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Associative Journal of Health Sciences

Fear and Prejudice: Does the Fear of HIV Testing Affect Antenatal Care Attendance Among Women in Oyam District, Uganda?

Submission: January 02, 2020;Published: February 24, 2020


Introduction: Uganda’s maternal mortality rate (MMR), 343 deaths per 100,000 live births, is one of the highest in the world. Antenatal care can prevent maternal deaths by providing information and health services to mothers. Antenatal care clinics provide HIV testing to reduce transmission and provide early diagnosis and treatment in mothers. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends women attend at least four antenatal care visits during their pregnancy. In Uganda, 6 out of every 10 women attend the four antenatal care visits. This study’s objective was to evaluate whether fear of or prejudice against HIV testing affects antenatal care visit attendance by expectant mothers in the sub-counties of Oyam District.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was carried out among 184 women to assess their knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs of HIV, HIV testing, and antenatal care. The study population included women from six subcounties in Oyam District, Northern Uganda. Participants completed questionnaires adapted from the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2016 to collect information on the attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors of HIV and antenatal care visits.

Results: Out of 184 women, 37 (20.1%) feared to test for HIV during pregnancy and 147 women did not fear (79.9%), even if prejudice was displayed. There was no association between the antenatal care visits a woman attended and whether they feared to get tested for HIV (p=0.48). There was no association between the first month of antenatal care attendance and whether there was fear to get tested (p=0.26).

Conclusion: Although HIV stigma is present, testing for HIV does not deter women from attending antenatal care services.

Keywords: Antenatal care; HIV testing; Oyam; Uganda; Maternal health

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