How voluntary is HIV testing in Zambia?
Namuunda Mutombo, Australian National University
The low level of voluntarism for HIV testing is negating progress on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programmes. With a sub-sample of 729 (17%) respondents ever tested for HIV from the 2005 Zambia Sexual Behaviour Survey and selected excerpts from the predominantly qualitative 2006 Zambia HIV Voluntary Counselling and Testing Study, this paper examines factors associated with voluntarism for HIV testing in Zambia. This paper also examines the contribution of voluntary tests to HIV testing levels in Zambia. Even though the principle of voluntarism is emphasised in the provision of HIV testing services by various international conventions, most people in Zambia tested for HIV because of compulsory or provider-oriented testing. This result raises human rights concerns but is critical for informing policy makers about the need to adopt more realistic approaches in identifying HIV-positive persons if HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention programmes are to be successful.