Identifying social network correlates of HIV testing behaviour (VCT uptake) amongst UKZN students.
South Africa has the highest burden of HIV and AIDS in the world, yet most of these infected people are unaware of their HIV status. HIV voluntary counselling and testing is shown to have manifold benefits in improving the quality and duration of life of those infected with HIV as well as preventing the spread of infection to HIV negative people. There is a clear need for research into this area. This study therefore investigates the relationship between the social network correlates of HIV testing behaviour amongst a sample of the student population of the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, Pietermaritzburg campus, using social network analysis and the theories of social learning and social influence as the lens through which to interpret the results. This was an empirical study using data that was collected using an anonymous, self-complete, all-of-campus student survey. Five hundred and sixty-six participants completed the survey. This study employed a cross sectional design and is based on a secondary data analysis of a larger project. The data were analysed using a stepwise multiple regression. The findings show that social network size and residential diversity of participants‟ social networks were significantly associated with VCT uptake. Participants with the smallest network size were more likely to have tested for HIV than those with the largest network size, while those with the most residentially diverse networks were more likely to have tested than those with the least diverse networks. The findings suggest that some aspects of students‟ social networks influenced the likelihood of having tested for HIV, but social learning and social influence are not bound exclusively to an enabling or constraining role on VCT uptake. In order to better understand their influence, the prevailing social norms and information within a social network need to be established.