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Sex differentials in the use of centres for voluntary counselling and testing for HIV in Cameroon

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Part of the strategic response to HIV in Cameroon, West Africa, has been the institutionalisation of voluntary testing and counselling (VCT) for HIV services across the country. The study addresses the general level of awareness and use of VCT centres in Cameroon. The data were extracted from the national, cross-sectional, 2004 Cameroon Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). The survey collected information on respondents' demographic characteristics and awareness and utilisation of VCT services, through a standard behavioural surveillance survey, administered in face-to-face interviews with males aged 15 years or older and females aged 15 to 49 years. Chi-square and logistic regression were employed for data analysis. A total of 5 280 males and 10 656 females responded to the 2004 Cameroon DHS. More of the male than female respondents had a secondary or higher education (51.8% versus 39%), slightly more of the males than females resided in urban areas (57.3% versus 54.8%), and males were more likely than females to have heard of VCT centres (37.8% versus 26.8%) and were also much more likely to have had an HIV test at a VCT centre (5.9% males versus 1.3% females). The findings indicate that awareness and use of centres offering VCT for HIV is very low in Cameroon. Further research in Cameroon is needed to assess individuals' reasons for not using VCT, as well as studies to identify patterns of information flow regarding the dissemination of knowledge about HIV and AIDS and about VCT centres.
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