Overcoming barriers to HIV testing in the UK: Lessons from Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa

Janey Sewell
Research Nurse, UCL Department of Infection and Population Health

In April 2012 I was awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship – a grant that funds the recipient to travel abroad to gain experience and knowledge that can be shared and disseminated for the benefit of others back in the UK. Using this, I aimed to develop an understanding of the HIV services available, and people’s attitudes towards HIV testing in Eastern and sub-Saharan Africa. I hoped this would enable me to characterise some of the barriers to HIV testing in the UK’s Black African community in a step towards overcoming them. In the North London HIV service where I work, many of the Black Africans who use the service originate from Eastern and Southern Africa. This has developed my long-standing interest in how HIV/AIDS in Africa impacts on health-seeking behaviours and access to services in the UK. So, at the start of 2013 I spent 3 months visiting HIV clinics and testing centres in Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Here I reflect on and discuss the lessons that I learnt from this exciting opportunity. Read more…