An exploration of factors affecting voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) amongst employees in the private sector : a company case study.
Mthembu, Steve Sibusiso.
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Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) is known as the key component of HIVprevention and treatment programmes in workplace settings. The main objective of this study was to explore factors affecting the uptake of VCT amongst employees in the private sector. This study was also indirectly aimed in examining the effectiveness of HIV-prevention and treatment programmes in workplace settings. The Social cognitive theory (SCT) was adopted as the core theoretical framework in this study. The SCT explains behaviour change as a complex phenomenon and a product of multiple, complex factors embedded on the individual’s characteristic and his/her surrounding environment. This theory recognises the strength of other health promotion theories such as the health belief model (HBM), theory of reasoned action (TRA) in explaining behaviour change, but it mostly helps to provide a more holistic and coherent understanding of the complex factors affecting VCT uptake. This was a qualitative case study. Individual, semi-structured interviews were utilised to collect data from 6 male and 4 female participants, who are employees of a courier company operating around Durban. This company implemented an HIV/AIDS policy about 10 years ago, with an aim to introduce HIV-prevention and treatment initiatives, and to facilitate easy access to these initiatives within the workplace setting. Data was analysed using thematic analysis. Themes were analysed and discussed in relation to the topic of the study. Factors that affect VCT in the workplace were categorised thematically and critically discussed as findings of the study. Despite the convenient and easily accessible VCT and ART initiatives, rapid testing and onsite nature of VCT campaigns, the uptake of VCT appeared to be relatively poor within the compnay. The perceived lack of confidentiality regarding results, fears of stigma and discrimination, as well as organisational factors, were identified as barriers to the success of HIVprevention and treatment initiatives in this company. In light of these findings, the study recommends measures that might help improve service delivery. The study also contributes to the body of knowledge with respect to challenges facing HIV-prevention and treatment initiatives in workplace settings.