Promotion of HIV testing
Our main goal in the promotion of HIV testing in Sub-Saharan African communities in Flanders is early diagnosis of HIV and timely access to care. More than half of Sub-Saharan Africans living with HIV (52%) received their HIV diagnosis late (CD4<350cells/µl or AIDS symptoms within three months after the HIV diagnosis). This delay in diagnosis results in:
- delayed access to treatment,
- (probably) more severe medical consequences of the HIV-infection
- an increased risk of HIV transmission
An early diagnosis of HIV benefits patients and is at the same time an effective way to stop the spread of HIV.
Recent research has also shown that many Sub-Saharan African migrants living with HIV may not know their HIV status. The TOGETHER study, conducted in Antwerp in 2014, has shown that 6% of Sub-Saharan African women and 3% of the Sub-Saharan African men living in Antwerp are HIV positive; 53% of them did not report their status.
The promotion of knowing one’s HIV status and reducing barriers for HIV-testing is therefore a priority for the HIV-SAM Project. Together with community leaders we organize different activities to sensitize the Sub-Saharan African communities in Flanders about the importance of HIV testing. In addition, we bring HIV testing to the communities by organizing outreach HIV testing sessions. Many diagnostic opportunities are missed in the regular health care system because doctors do not routinely propose an HIV test. Therefore we also promote provider-initiated HIV testing and counseling at the rotuine health care level. To achieve this, we mainly work with first line service providers and their professional associations.
More information about HIV-testing among Sub-Saharan African migrants? Read our studies.