Promotion of Couples’ Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing: A Comparison of Influence Networks in Rwanda and Zambia

October 2016 - Combination Prevention

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Kelley, A.L., Hagaman, A.,K., Wall, K.M., et al. BMC Public Health (2016) 16:744, doi 10.1186/s12889-016-3424-z.

This study examined couples’ voluntary counseling and testing (CVCT) led by the Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group. Influential network leaders (INLs) were trained to encourage CVCT, and recruit and mentor influential network agents (INAs), who were trained to educate and invite couples to CVCT. Through surveys distributed to INLs (31 in Zambia, 27 in Rwanda), INAs (53 in Zambia, 33 in Rwanda), and couples who underwent testing (1,271 in Zambia, 3,895 in Rwanda), this study examined INL and INA supportive mentoring, their CVCT promotion activities, and where couples received CVCT information. The results showed that Rwandan INLs and INAs reported speaking with couples more often in comparison to those in Zambia, who more often spoke to married women and community groups. In Rwanda and Zambia, each INL supported on average 2 and 3 INAs, respectively, meeting 7 times per month for 32–45 minutes. Zambian couples were twice as likely to learn about CVCT from an INA, whereas Rwandan couples more often learned about CVCT from another couple. More couples were tested in Rwanda than Zambia (6% versus 18%). The authors concluded that Rwanda may have had higher CVCT rates due to the Rwandan INA’s personal experience undergoing HIV testing services themselves, more hours per week spent promoting CVCT, and promotion of group and couples CVCT.

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