Older people's perceptions of health services and their health seeking behaviour in the era of HIV/AIDs : a case study of the eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.
Sibanda, Charles Mandlenkosi.
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In sub-Saharan Africa - the region with some of the world's highest levels of HIV prevalence - AIDS has reached pandemic proportions. At present, the highest rates of infection are in the region where the main route of transmission is heterosexual intercourse. Although HIV/AIDS is a major concern for all age groups, to date there has been very little exploratory research conducted on the population aged 50 and above. This dissertation seeks to analyse older people's perceptions of health services and their health seeking behaviour in the era of HIV/AIDS. This study utilized both qualitative and quantitative methodologies for data collection. The qualitative data relies on focus group discussions and the quantitative data from the exit interviews. In total, two hundred interviews were conducted and two focus group discussions were conducted: one with men only and one with women only. For the purpose of the study, older people referred to those persons aged 50 years and above. The study found that awareness of HIV/AIDS was relatively high. The majority of older people were aware of the main routes of HIV transmission and also the measures that they can use to protect themselves. An important source of information is public health facilities. Few older men and women perceived a medium or high risk of HIV infection. This is likely to have influenced their attendance at HIV/AIDS services. Few respondents reported ever using HIV/AIDS services. There are a number of factors inhibiting use of HIV/AIDS services including perceptions of health services, stigma and discrimination, high transportation costs and poor interpersonal relationships with providers. For the HIV/AIDS interventions to be successful, the task remains to address these factors influencing health-seeking behaviours.