oa South African Family Practice - Perceptions of the HIV counselling and testing programme by patients in a rural regional hospital in South Africa : research

Volume 57, Issue 6
  • ISSN : 2078-6190
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6204



Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) have become a major public health challenge worldwide in the past few decades. The impact is felt in all sectors in South Africa, as in other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Several health-related approaches have been adopted to facilitate an understanding of and reduction in the risk factors associated with HIV and AIDS. Following the demonstration of underperformance by the new voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) guidelines in South Africa, otherwise referred to as HIV counselling and testing (HCT), in providing practical suggestions on ways to optimally engage clients to ensure that testing for HIV is being performed, an evaluation to ascertain other patient-influencing factors on healthcare worker-initiated HCT was needed. Thus, the aim of this study was to describe patients' perceptions of the benefits of and barriers to HCT, and their willingness to test.

One hundred and seventy-two patients referred for HCT were randomly selected over a three-month period. Data were collected by a research assistant using the modified standardised World Health Organization/ Health Global Access Project (HGAP) questionnaire.
The majority of the participants demonstrated a good perception of the benefits of and barriers to HCT, and most reported good self-efficacy with regard to protecting themselves against HIV infection and preventing the acquisition thereof. However, only 74% were confident enough to test for HIV, while 28% reported being reluctant to notify their partners of their status if they tested positive, and 38% reported fear of healthcare workers showing discrimination as a barrier to HCT.
Despite excellent perceptions of the HCT programme, a significant association between participants' perceptions of HCT and their willingness to test for HIV was not reported ( > 0.05).

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