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

Y Ntsepe
LC Simbayi
O Shisana
T Rehle
M Mabaso
N Ncitakalo
A Davids
YD Naidoo


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.

Keywords: HIV Counselling and Testing, perceptions, stigma, discrimination and confidentiality, South Africa

Le conseil et le de´pistage (CDV) du VIH sont conside´re´s importants pour les programmes de soins du VIH/SIDA. Le ministe`re sudafricain de la Sante´ a lance´ une campagne de CDV en avril 2010, et a atteint 13 269 746 personnes en juin 2011, dont 16% ont e´te´ identifie´s se´ropositifs, et dont 400,000 ont commence´ le traitement antire´troviral. L’objectif global de ce projet e´tait de mieux comprendre les perceptions ge´ne´rales sur le de´pistage du VIH dans les diffe´rentes communaute´s sud-africaines. Les facteurs influenc¸ant la participation au de´pistage du VIH ont e´te´ aussi e´tudie´s. Douze groupes de discussion (GDD), consistant de huit a` douze hommes et femmes, ont e´te´ forme´s. Les participants e´taient recrute´s dans les localite´s urbaines formelles et informelles a` Cape-Town et a` Durban. Les groupes e´taient repartie en quatre sur base d’ethnicite´, repre´sentant diffe´rents groupes d’aˆge: les adolescents (12–17 ans), les jeunes (18–24 ans) et les adultes (25 ans et plus). Les donne´es ont e´te´ analyse´es en utilisant un codage the´matique. La  perception errone´e du risque, la peur du de´pistage du VIH, la stigmatisation et la discrimination e´taient parmi les principaux the`mes qui ont e´merge´. Les participants africains et indiens ont de´clare´ d’eˆtre moins dispose´s a` se faire tester pour le VIH a` propre initiative, tandis que les jeunes blancs e´taient dispose´s a` connaıˆtre leur statut VIH graˆce aux dons de sang et aux campagnes universitaires de de´pistage du VIH. La plupart des participants des DDG ont dit qu’ils e´taient dispose´s a` se laisser tester s’ils avaient une meilleure compre´hension du processus de de´pistage, et s’ils e´taient convaincus de sa confidentialite´. Les re´sultats de cette recherche ont re´ite´re´ l’importance de la diffusion de messages positifs et de la confidentialite´ des re´sultats le de´pistage du VIH dans une socie´te´ ou` il y a encore un stigmate associe´ au VIH. Cela peut eˆtre accompli en partie par la poursuite de la campagne nationale de CDV, qui a e´te´ un succe`s conside´rable dans la lutte contre le VIH/SIDA en Afrique du Sud au cours des deux dernie`res anne´es.

Mots cle´s: Le conseil et le depistage du VIH, Perceptions, stigmate, discrimination, confidentialite, Afrique du Sud