Unpacking the Barriers to Reproductive Health Services in Ghana: HIV/STI Testing, Abortion and Contraception

Nandita Thatte, Jeffrey B. Bingenheimer, Khadidiatou Ndiaye, Rajiv N. Rimal


Youth report embarrassment, cost, and poor access as barriers to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services. Interventions to address barriers like youth friendly services have yet to conclusively demonstrate impact on protective behaviours like condom or contraceptive use. SRH encompasses a range of services so we aimed to assess how perceived barriers differed depending on the service being sought between common services accessed by young people: HIV/STI testing, abortion, and contraception. 1203 Ghanaian youth were interviewed. Data was analysed to identify barriers by service type, demographics, and between high and low HIV prevalence communities. Being embarrassed or shy was the most commonly reported barrier across services. Overall being embarrassed or shy, fear of safety, fear of family finding out and cost were the most reported barriers across all services. Further analysis by service indicated that being embarrassed was a significantly greater barrier for HIV/STI testing and contraception when compared with abortion (p<0.001) and safety concerns and cost were significantly greater barriers for abortion and contraception compared with HIV/STI testing (p<0.001). Efforts to develop interventions that consider the service being sought may help address the range of barriers faced by youth with diverse SRH needs. (Afr J Reprod Health 2016; 20[2]: 53-61).

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