MPhil study projects

Assessing attitudes towards HIV counselling and testing services by employees at a provincial Department of Social Development in South Africa

Student: Mashila Joel

Country: South Africa

Despite the availability of free HIV counselling and testing (HCT) services offered by the Department of Social Development, there is a reluctance among employees to use these services, indicating a clear avoidance of HIV testing. This study examined the factors and obstacles influencing employees’ decisions to either use or refrain from using the existing HCT services.

Employing a qualitative approach, the research conducted semi-structured interviews with nine employees, with all interviews audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically.

The findings yielded nine prominent themes: compromised confidentiality, fear and stigma, perceived poor quality and ineffective government services, appreciation for benefits accruing from the employee health and wellness programme (EHWP), satisfaction with pre- and post-counselling and testing services, willingness to use the department’s HIV counselling and testing services, HIV testing hesitancy, perceived risks associated with HIV counselling and testing and knowledge of the importance of seeking HIV treatment and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Most participants expressed satisfaction with and appreciation for the benefits the programme provided. Responses highlighted that avoidance and hesitancy towards HIV testing stemmed from fears of receiving a positive result and concerns regarding outcome confidentiality.