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Considering alternatives to the predomination model of volentary councelling and testing practiced in South Africa

Testing is widely acknowledged to be a useful and necessary secondary tool of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention. It is the method by which to identify people who are living with the virus, so that their behaviour may be modified and medical condition treated in order to prevent further infection. Unfortunately, many persons in South Africa (SA) remain undiagnosed and therefore unaware of their HIV-positive status. This thesis explores why it is necessary to test for HIV in SA, where the incidence of the virus remains the highest in the world. Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) or the âopt-inâ approach has been adopted as the norm or âsine qua nonâ. The efficacy of this method will be interrogated and shortcomings identified. The most notable is that few people in SA undergo an HIV test in order to learn their status. When they do, it is often late in the progression of opportunistic infections, requiring hospitalisation that increases pressure on an already over-stretched healthcare system. Reasons for the poor uptake of VCT are explained, including pervasive stigma and deficiencies in leadership of SAâs HIV and AIDS response. The expansion of testing is a proposed response to the challenge of persons remaining undiagnosed, and includes the acceleration of âopt-outâ or routine HIV testing (RHT) among SAâs high prevalence population. This model offers an HIV test routinely to persons attending government healthcare settings with an illness or for a routine check-up. Although the provider initiates the test, consent is necessary in order to proceed and there is an option to decline. While the key focus of this thesis is routine HIV testing, other approaches are explored in brief, including mandatory testing, mobile clinics and wellness screening. The thesis argues that if SA is to achieve the HIV and AIDS and STI National Strategic Plan (NSP) target of increasing the number of adults who have ever had a test to 70 percent by 2011, new approaches to testing, and especially opt-out, will need to be explored and more widely adopted. Key words: HIV/AIDS; Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT); Routine HIV Testing (RHT); Routinely Recommended Testing (RRT); Opt-out Testing; Provider-Initiated Testing and Counselling (PITC).
Date January 2009
CreatorsBrown, Sean
ContributorsHead, Judith
PublisherUniversity of Cape Town, Faculty of Humanities, Aids and Society Research Unit
Source SetsSouth African National ETD Portal
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeMaster Thesis, Masters, MA

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