MPhil study projects

The knowledge of, attitudes to and practices of HIV testing services among asylum seekers and refugees in Johannesburg, South Africa

Student: Elyse Panta Kamona Kabongo
Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

HIV testing and counselling are cost-effective HIV prevention measures, contingent on effective utilisation of HIV testing services (HTS). Previous studies noted low HTS awareness, negative attitudes and underutilisation among asylum seekers and refugees, who are often marginalised groups. This study assessed HTS knowledge, attitudes and practices among Congolese asylum seekers and refugees in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The qualitative study involved 30 participants selected from the Yeoville market. Data, gathered through self-administered questionnaires covering socio-demographic details, HTS knowledge, attitudes and practices, indicated a generally high awareness and knowledge of HTS. Negative attitudes towards HTS centres, primarily due to stigma, discrimination fears and fear of positive results, were however prevalent. Despite these concerns, a significant number of participants expressed willingness to utilise HTS. Language barriers and a lack of legal documentation were identified as key obstacles to accessing healthcare facilities.

Recommendations include tailoring HTS promotion to address stigma and discrimination fears, improving healthcare accessibility by addressing language barriers and emphasising basic healthcare rights for asylum seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants.