Breaking Down Barriers to Access: Burkina Faso Abolishes HIV User Fees
In West Africa, the public health response to key populations most affected by the HIV epidemic is influenced by a history of systemic inequality toward marginalized groups. Largely due to political pressure, many HIV prevention and care policies have traditionally excluded the key populations who are most at risk of contracting and transmitting HIV—men who have sex with men, injecting drug users, sex workers, and transgender persons.
In an effort to support an open dialogue and improve the enabling environment for key populations in West Africa, HP+ has been supporting several countries, including Burkina Faso, to improve policies and programs that engage government and other stakeholders to break down societal stigma and discrimination facing key populations. These efforts support the country as a signatory to the 2015 Dakar declaration commitment to invest in health, social, and legal services for key populations affected by HIV in West Africa.
Burkina Faso reached a crucial milestone in its endeavor to reduce barriers to access and increase uptake of services among people living with HIV by adopting a policy that eliminates user fees for all HIV testing, care, and treatment services, as well as related medical and diagnostic needs. The policy, adopted on March 16, 2020, follows a series of HP+-supported stakeholder dialogues, including dissemination of and deliberation on evidence for strategies to eliminate HIV-related user fees for the estimated 100,000 people living with HIV in Burkina Faso.
By adopting the policy to eliminate financial barriers for those seeking HIV testing and for people living with HIV who receive routine care, diagnostic, and treatment services, the country takes a significant step forward—not only on its journey to reach epidemic control, but to reduce discrimination and increase equity for all.