Female university students' motivations for undergoing voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) and the percieved effectiveness of the test on sexual risk behaviour : an exploratory study.
Sibanda, Laura P. V.
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Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) has been predominantly used for diagnostic purposes and it has been suggested VCT could help reduce the spread of the disease by preventing those who test HIV-negative from contracting the disease and also preventing those who are HIV positive from further spreading it by practising safer sex. While there is research focusing on understanding the implications of VCT for HIV positive individuals, little is to be found on the influence of the experience of VCT on the sexual behaviour of individuals who undergo VCT and obtain HIV negative results. Even less is known about the influence of VCT on university students in South Africa. The aim of the study is to explore the perceived influence of VCT on the sexual risk behaviour of HIV negative female University of KwaZulu-Natal students. This qualitative study made use of in-depth interviews conducted with 6 female university students recruited from the HIVAN Support Centre at the University of KwaZulu- Natal, Howard Collage Campus. The findings of this study suggest that VCT is generally perceived as effective in helping to reduce risktaking among HIV negative participants. At the same time participants felt motivated to do what it takes to obtain a negative result on their next test. However, one participants' felt that her negative results could make her vulnerable to pressures from her partner to practice unsafe sex. For VCT to have a positive impact on the sexual behaviour of individuals who test negative, programmes should provide up to date information, as part of pre and post test counselling, in a clear manner to avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding on the part of participants. Further, more support needs to be provided to individuals who are HIV negative in the form of support groups or open forums that encourage young people to discuss what situations put them at risk as well as assist other members of the group to deal with such situations.