With better health care and greater access to antiretrovirals (ARVs) it has become important to increase the uptake of HIV testing. Major testing campaigns have been launched in South Africa, but no official provision exists for clients who prefer self-testing for HIV. The purpose of this study was to investigate which HIV-testing model (client-initiated, provider-initiated or self-testing) a sample of South Africans preferred and why. A semi-structured questionnaire was completed by 466 participants and 9 provinces were represented by the sample. The results indicated that 22.3% of the participants preferred self-testing for HIV (while 66.1% preferred client-initiated and 11.6% provider-initiated counselling and testing). Participants who preferred self-testing for HIV were predominantly (p < 0.05) male, white, lived in cities or towns, did not know their HIV status, and had no intention of being tested at a medical facility in future. The underlying themes of why participants preferred self-testing for HIV above testing in a medical facility were the need for privacy and confidentiality; the need to keep testing as well as the results secret; fear of discrimination and stigma; distrust in the health care system to keep results confidential; and an aversion to face-to-face counselling. Participants indicated that they would consider testing if self-testing for HIV with telephone counselling becomes readily available in their communities. HIV testing models in South Africa should be revisited and revised to offer people who would otherwise not be tested, with an alternative method of testing.
Keywords: self-testing for HIV, home-testing, client-initiated counselling and testing (CICT), HIV testing models, providerinitiated counselling and testing (PICT)
African Journal of AIDS Research 2013, 12(1): 41–48