MPhil study projects

An exploration of the barriers to and enablers of the uptake of HIV testing services by male street vendors in Maseru, Lesotho

Student: Teboho Charles Mohlabi

Country: South Africa

Men are generally perceived as having a low risk of HIV infection. Although HIV prevalence was typically lower among men compared to women, men exhibited low health-seeking behaviour, resulting in disproportionately low rates of HIV testing. This reluctance, compounded by harmful masculinity norms, presented a significant barrier to men accessing HIV testing services.

This study investigated the factors influencing the uptake of HIV testing services among male street vendors in Maseru, Lesotho. The research adopted a qualitative descriptive approach. The study cohort comprised 10 male street vendors operating in the informal market of Maseru.

The findings underscored the importance of addressing structural barriers such as entrenched masculinity, excessive work commitments, fear of stigma and apathy towards healthcare services. The study identified peer support, gender-sensitive services and flexible operating hours as facilitators of service uptake in the street vendor community.

The study highlighted the need for governmental and policy-level support to foster a culture conducive to men seeking HIV testing services. Identified barriers, including low education levels, low income and negative interactions with healthcare workers had to be promptly addressed, while leveraging enablers such as peer educators and support groups.