Background Global commitment to stop Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and ensure access to HIV treatment calls for women empowerment, as these efforts play major roles in mother-to-child transmission. We explored the association between women’s healthcare decision-making capacity and HIV testing in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Methods We used data from the current Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) conducted between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2018 in 28 countries in SSA. At the descriptive level, we calculated the prevalence of HIV testing in each of the countries. This was followed by the distribution of HIV testing across the socio-demographic characteristics of women. Finally, we used binary logistic regression to explore the likelihood of HIV testing by women’s health care decision-making capacity and socio-demographic characteristics. The results were presented as Crude Odds Ratios (COR) and Adjusted Odds Ratios (AOR) with their corresponding 95% confidence intervals signifying precision. Statistical significance was set at p-value <0.05.
Results We found that prevalence of HIV testing in the 28 SSA countries was 64.4%, with Congo DR having the least (20.2%) and the highest occurred in Rwanda (97.4%). Women who took healthcare decisions alone [COR=3.183, CI=2.880-3.519] or with their partners [COR=2.577, CI=2.335-2.844] were more likely to test for HIV, compared to those whose healthcare decisions were taken by others, and this persisted after controlling for significant covariates: [AOR=1.507, CI=1.321-1.720] and [AOR=1.518, CI=1.334-1.728] respectively.
Conclusion SSA countries intending to improve HIV testing need to incorporate women’s healthcare decision-making capacity strategies. These strategies can include education and counselling. This is essential because our study indicates that the capacity of women to make healthcare decisions has an association with their decision to test for their HIV status.