Community perceptions of repeat HIV-testing: experiences of the ANRS 12249 treatment as prevention trial in rural South Africa

OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): J.Orne-Gliemann, T.Zuma, J.Chikovore, N.Gillespie, M.Grant, C.Iwuji, J.Larmarange, N.McGrath, F.Lert, J.Imrie
DEPARTMENT: Social Aspects of Public Health (SAPH), Human and Social Development (HSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 9367

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In the context of the ANRS 12249 Treatment as Prevention (TasP) trial, we investigated perceptions of regular and repeat HIV-testing in rural KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), an area of very high HIV prevalence and incidence. We conducted two qualitative studies, before (2010) and during the early implementation stages of the trial (2013-2014), to appreciate the evolution in community perceptions of repeat HIV-testing over this period of rapid changes in HIV-testing and treatment approaches. Repeated focus group discussions were organized with young adults, older adults and mixed groups. Repeat and regular HIV-testing was overall well perceived before, and well received during, trial implementation. Yet community members were not able to articulate reasons why people might want to test regularly or repeatedly, apart from individual sexual risk-taking. Repeat home-based HIV-testing was considered as feasible and convenient, and described as more acceptable than clinic-based HIV-testing, mostly because of privacy and confidentiality. However, socially regulated discourses around appropriate sexual behaviour and perceptions of stigma and prejudice regarding HIV and sexual risk-taking were consistently reported. This study suggests several avenues to improve HIV-testing acceptability, including implementing diverse and personalised approaches to HIV-testing and care, and providing opportunities for antiretroviral therapy initiation and care at home.