Perceptions about the acceptability and prevalence of HIV testing and factors influencing them in different communities in South Africa

SOURCE: Sahara J: Journal of Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): Y.Ntsepe, L.C.Simbayi, O.Shisana, T.Rehle, M.Mabaso, N.Ncitakalo, A.Davids, Y.D.Naidoo
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Capabilities (HSC), Office of the CEO (ERM), Office of the CEO (OCEO), Office of the CEO (IL), Office of the CEO (BS), Office of the CEO (IA)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8295
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/2317

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HIV counselling and testing (HCT) is considered important because it is an entry point to a comprehensive continuum of care for HIV/AIDS. The South African Department of Health launched an HCT campaign in April 2010, and this reached 13,269,746 people by June 2011, of which 16% tested HIV positive and 400,000 of those were initiated into antiretroviral treatment. The overall objective of this project was to gain insight into the general perceptions about HIV testing in the different South African communities. Factors influencing testing in these communities were also explored. Discussions with twelve focus groups (FG) of 8-12 participants each were conducted with male and female participants recruited from both urban formal and informal communities in Cape Town and Durban. Participants included four racial groups represented by different age groups as follows: adolescents (12-17 years), youth (18-24 years) and adults (25 years and older). Data were analyzed using thematic coding. Among the key themes that emerged from the findings were the inaccurate perception of risk, fear of testing HIV positive, stigma and discrimination. Participants from both African and Indian FGs reported being less likely to do self-initiated HIV testing and counselling, while those from the FG consisting of young whites were more likely to learn about their HIV status through blood donations and campus HIV testing campaigns. Most FGs said they were likely to test if they understood the testing process better and also if the results are kept confidential. The present findings reiterate the importance of spreading positive messages and ensuring confidentiality for HIV testing in a society where there is still some stigma associated with people living with HIV/AIDS. This can partly be accomplished by the continuation of the national HCT campaign, which has been a considerable success in the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Africa during the past two years.