Predictors of willingness to accept pre-marital HIV testing and intention to sero-sort marital partners; risks and consequences: Findings from a population-based study in Cameroon

Introduction

The objectives of this study was to investigate and compare levels of acceptability of pre-marital HIV testing; and intention to sero-sort future marital and its associated factors among unmarried adults in two cities in Cameroon.

Methods

A population-based survey was conducted simultaneously in the cities of Kumba and Buea, located in the Southwest region of Cameroon. Data were collected from September to October 2016 by trained interviewers who administered questionnaires to eligible and consenting unmarried adults aged 21–35 years. Data were weighted and logistic regression analyses performed to identify significant predictors. The level of statistical significance was set at p< = 0.05.

Results

A total of 1,406 respondents (767 in Kumba and 639 in Buea) participated in the study. In the pooled sample, the median age of respondents was 26 years (IQR = 23–29) and over half (54.8%) were males. Over 90% of respondents in both cities indicated their willingness to accept pre-marital HIV testing. Respondents who had previously tested for HIV in Kumba (AOR = 7.87; 95%CI, 4.02–15.44) were significantly more likely to accept premarital HIV testing than those who had never tested for HIV. In Kumba, older age (AOR = 0.42; 95%CI, 0.18–0.96) and those unemployed (AOR = 0.22; 95% CI, 0.06–0.76) were significantly less likely to accept pre-marital HIV testing. In Buea males (AOR = 0.64 95% CI, 0.45–0.89) who would test HIV negative would be significantly less likely to accept to marry an HIV positive partner. In Buea, respondents who indicated a moderate risk of contracting HIV (AOR = 1.71; 95%CI, 1.09–2.66, p = 0.018) were significantly more likely to accept to marry an HIV positive partner. The major limitation of the study was that a hypothetical situation was used to ask respondents about their willingness to accept pre-marital HIV testing rather than actual HIV test acceptance.

Conclusions

Most respondents expressed their willingness to undergo pre-marital HIV testing. However, majority of respondents who would test HIV negative would refuse to marry their partner who tests HIV positive. These findings suggest that interventions to reduce HIV infection and fight against stigma and discrimination should be reinforced at community level.