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1.  Equity in HIV testing: evidence from a cross-sectional study in ten Southern African countries 
Background
HIV testing with counseling is an integral component of most national HIV and AIDS prevention strategies in southern Africa. Equity in testing implies that people at higher risk for HIV such as women; those who do not use condoms consistently; those with multiple partners; those who have suffered gender based violence; and those who are unable to implement prevention choices (the choice-disabled) are tested and can have access to treatment.
Methods
We conducted a household survey of 24,069 people in nationally stratified random samples of communities in Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. We asked about testing for HIV in the last 12 months, intention to test, and about HIV risk behaviour, socioeconomic indicators, access to information, and attitudes related to stigma.
Results
Across the ten countries, seven out of every ten people said they planned to have an HIV test but the actual proportion tested in the last 12 months varied from 24% in Mozambique to 64% in Botswana. Generally, people at higher risk of HIV were not more likely to have been tested in the last year than those at lower risk, although women were more likely than men to have been tested in six of the ten countries. In Swaziland, those who experienced partner violence were more likely to test, but in Botswana those who were choice-disabled for condom use were less likely to be tested. The two most consistent factors associated with HIV testing across the countries were having heard about HIV/AIDS from a clinic or health centre, and having talked to someone about HIV and AIDS.
Conclusions
HIV testing programmes need to encourage people at higher risk of HIV to get tested, particularly those who do not interact regularly with the health system. Service providers need to recognise that some people are not able to implement HIV preventive actions and may not feel empowered to get themselves tested.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-10-23
PMCID: PMC2945979  PMID: 20836859
2.  One size does not fit all: local determinants of measles vaccination in four districts of Pakistan 
Background
Rates of childhood vaccination in Pakistan remain low.There is continuing debate about the role of consumer and service factors in determining levels of vaccination in developing countries.
Methods
In a stratified random cluster sample of census enumeration areas across four districts in Pakistan, household interviews about vaccination of children and potentially related factors with 10,423 mothers of 14,542 children preceded discussion of findings in separate male and female focus groups. Logistic regression analyses helped to clarify local determinants of measles vaccination.
Results
Across the four districts, from 17% to 61% of mothers had formal education and 50% to 86% of children aged 12-23 months had received measles vaccination. Children were more likely to receive measles vaccination if the household was less vulnerable, if their mother had any formal education, if she knew at least one vaccine preventable disease, and if she had not heard of any bad effects of vaccination. Discussing vaccinations in the family was strongly associated with vaccination. In rural areas, living within 5 km of a vaccination facility or in a community visited by a vaccination team were associated with vaccination, as was the mother receiving information about vaccinations from a visiting lady health worker. Focus groups confirmed personal and service delivery obstacles to vaccination, in particular cost and poor access to vaccination services. Despite common factors, the pattern of variables related to measles vaccination differed between and within districts.
Conclusions
Vaccination coverage varies from district to district in Pakistan and between urban and rural areas in any district. Common factors are associated with vaccination, but their relative importance varies between locations. Good local information about vaccination rates and associated variables is important to allow effective and equitable planning of services.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-S1-S4
PMCID: PMC3226236  PMID: 19828062
3.  Increasing the demand for childhood vaccination in developing countries: a systematic review 
Background
Attempts to maintain or increase vaccination coverage almost all focus on supply side interventions: improving availability and delivery of vaccines. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of efforts to increase demand is uncertain.
Methods
We performed a systematic review of studies that provided quantitative estimates of the impact of demand side interventions on uptake of routine childhood vaccination. We retrieved studies published up to Sept 2008.
Results
The initial search retrieved 468 potentially eligible studies, including four systematic reviews and eight original studies of the impact of interventions to increase demand for vaccination. We identified only two randomised controlled trials. Interventions with an impact on vaccination uptake included knowledge translation (KT) (mass media, village resource rooms and community discussions) and non-KT initiatives (incentives, economic empowerment, household visits by extension workers). Most claimed to increase vaccine coverage by 20 to 30%. Estimates of the cost per vaccinated child varied considerably with several in the range of $10-20 per vaccinated child.
Conclusion
Most studies reviewed here represented a low level of evidence. Mass media campaigns may be effective, but the impact depends on access to media and may be costly if run at a local level. The persistence of positive effects has not been investigated. The economics of demand side interventions have not been adequately assessed, but available data suggest that some may be very cost-effective.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-S1-S5
PMCID: PMC3226237  PMID: 19828063
4.  Knowledge synthesis of benefits and adverse effects of measles vaccination: the Lasbela balance sheet 
Background
In preparation for a cluster-randomized controlled trial of a community intervention to increase the demand for measles vaccination in Lasbela district of Pakistan, a balance sheet summarized published evidence on benefits and possible adverse effects of measles vaccination.
Methods
The balance sheet listed: 1) major health conditions associated with measles; 2) the risk among the unvaccinated who contract measles; 3) the risk among the vaccinated; 4) the risk difference between vaccinated and unvaccinated; and 5) the likely net gain from vaccination for each condition.
Results
Two models revealed very different projections of net gain from measles vaccine. A Lasbela-specific combination of low period prevalence of measles among the unvaccinated, medium vaccination coverage and low vaccine efficacy rate, as revealed by the baseline survey, resulted in less-than-expected gains attributable to vaccination. Modelled on estimates where the vaccine had greater efficacy, the gains from vaccination would be more substantial.
Conclusion
Specific local conditions probably explain the low rates among the unvaccinated while the high vaccine failure rate is likely due to weaknesses in the vaccination delivery system. Community perception of these realities may have had some role in household decisions about whether to vaccinate, although the major discouraging factor was inadequate access. The balance sheet may be useful as a communication tool in other circumstances, applied to up-to-date local evidence.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-S1-S6
PMCID: PMC3226238  PMID: 19828064
5.  Equity and vaccine uptake: a cross-sectional study of measles vaccination in Lasbela District, Pakistan 
Background
Achieving equity means increased uptake of health services for those who need it most. But the poorest families continue to have the poorest service. In Pakistan, large numbers of children do not access vaccination against measles despite the national government's effort to achieve universal coverage.
Methods
A cross-sectional study of a random sample of 23 rural and 9 urban communities in the Lasbela district of south Pakistan, explored knowledge, attitudes and discussion around measles vaccination. Several socioeconomic variables allowed examination of the role of inequities in vaccination uptake; 2479 mothers provided information about 4007 children aged 10 to 59 months. A Mantel-Haenszel stratification analysis, with and without adjustment for clustering, clarified determinants of measles vaccination in urban and rural areas.
Results
A high proportion of mothers had appropriate knowledge of and positive attitudes to vaccination; many discussed vaccination, but only one half of children aged 10-59 months accessed vaccination. In urban areas, having an educated mother, discussing vaccinations, having correct knowledge about vaccinations, living in a community with a government vaccination facility within 5 km, and living in houses with better roofs were associated with vaccination uptake after adjusting for the effect of each of these variables and for clustering; maternal education was an equity factor even among those with good access. In rural areas, the combination of roof quality and access (vaccination post within 5 km) along with discussion about vaccines and knowledge about vaccines had an effect on uptake.
Conclusion
Stagnating rates of vaccination coverage may be related to increasing inequities. A hopeful finding is that discussion about vaccines and knowledge about vaccines had a positive effect that was independent of the negative effect of inequity - in both urban and rural areas. At least as a short term strategy, there seems to be reason to expect an intervention increasing knowledge and discussion about vaccination in this district might increase uptake.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-S1-S7
PMCID: PMC3226239  PMID: 19828065
6.  Evidence-based discussion increases childhood vaccination uptake: a randomised cluster controlled trial of knowledge translation in Pakistan 
Background
Childhood vaccination rates are low in Lasbela, one of the poorest districts in Pakistan's Balochistan province. This randomised cluster controlled trial tested the effect on uptake of informed discussion of vaccination costs and benefits, without relying on improved health services.
Methods
Following a baseline survey of randomly selected representative census enumeration areas, a computer generated random number sequence assigned 18 intervention and 14 control clusters. The intervention comprised three structured discussions separately with male and female groups in each cluster. The first discussion shared findings about vaccine uptake from the baseline study; the second focussed on the costs and benefits of childhood vaccination; the third focussed on local action plans. Field teams encouraged the group participants to spread the dialogue to households in their communities. Both intervention and control clusters received a district-wide health promotion programme emphasizing household hygiene. Interviewers in the household surveys were blind of intervention status of different clusters. A follow-up survey after one year measured impact of the intervention on uptake of measles and full DPT vaccinations of children aged 12-23 months, as reported by the mother or caregiver.
Results
In the follow-up survey, measles and DPT vaccination uptake among children aged 12-23 months (536 in intervention clusters, 422 in control clusters) was significantly higher in intervention than in control clusters, where uptake fell over the intervention period. Adjusting for baseline differences between intervention and control clusters with generalized estimating equations, the intervention doubled the odds of measles vaccination in the intervention communities (OR 2.20, 95% CI 1.24-3.88). It trebled the odds of full DPT vaccination (OR 3.36, 95% CI 2.03-5.56).
Conclusion
The relatively low cost knowledge translation intervention significantly increased vaccine uptake, without relying on improved services, in a poor district with limited access to services. This could have wide relevance in increasing coverage in developing countries.
Trial registration
ISRCTN12421731.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-9-S1-S8
PMCID: PMC3226240  PMID: 19828066
7.  Community views about routine HIV testing and antiretroviral treatment in Botswana: signs of progress from a cross sectional study 
Background
The Botswana government began providing free antiretroviral therapy (ART) in 2002 and in 2004 introduced routine HIV testing (RHT) in government health facilities, aiming to increase HIV testing and uptake of ART. There have been concerns that the RHT programme might be coercive, lead to increased partner violence, and drive people away from government health services.
Methods
We conducted a household survey of 1536 people in a stratified random sample of communities across Botswana, asking about use and experience of government health services, views about RHT, views about ART, and testing for HIV in the last 12 months. Focus groups further discussed issues about ART.
Results
Some 81% of respondents had visited a government clinic within the last 24 months. Of these 92% were satisfied with the service, 96% felt they were treated with respect and 90% were comfortable about confidentiality. Almost all respondents said they would choose a government clinic for treatment of AIDS.
Nearly one half (47%) thought they were at risk of HIV. Those who had experienced partner violence within the last 12 months were more likely to think themselves at risk. One half of those who had visited a government facility in the last 24 months were offered HIV tests, and nearly half were tested. A few (8%) of those who were not asked thought they were tested. Most people (79%) had heard of RHT and 94% were in favour of it. Over one half (55%) of the entire sample had been tested for HIV within the last 12 months, one half of these through RHT. Women were more likely to have been tested.
Nearly everyone (94%) had heard of ART and thought it could help AIDS. Focus groups identified problems of access to ART due to distance from treatment centres and long queues in the centres.
Conclusion
Public awareness and approval of RHT was very high. The high rate of RHT has contributed to the overall high rate of HIV testing. The government's programme to increase HIV testing and uptake of ART is apparently working well. However, turning the tide of the epidemic will also require further concerted efforts to reduce the rate of new HIV infections.
doi:10.1186/1472-698X-7-5
PMCID: PMC1903358  PMID: 17559678

Results 1-7 (7)