South African Journal of Education
On-line version ISSN 2076-3433
Print version ISSN 0256-0100
FRANCIS, Dennis. "They should know where they stand": attitudes to HIV Voluntary Counselling and testing amongst a group of out-of-school youth. S. Afr. j. educ. [online]. 2010, vol.30, n.3. ISSN 2076-3433.
This article draws on a larger study that examined the ways in which out-of-school youth responded to a context of HIV/AIDS and how they themselves can be active participants in HIV/AIDS prevention. In addition, four out-of-school youths, trained as fieldworkers, interviewed 32 other out-of-school youths in the Shongweni area of KwaZulu-Natal about their attitudes towards VCT. The out-of-school youth displayed a very positive attitude towards VCT and 91% stated their intentions of getting tested. However this attitude was contradicted by the facts that only nine (28%) had been for testing and that participants evidenced high levels of fear and stigma surrounding VCT. Of the participants, 43% stated a preference for a VCT site or hospital far from home, or, if they could afford it, a private doctor, to minimise the likelihood of being seen by someone they knew. This factor made it more difficult and costlier for outof-school youth to access VCT. For some, the fear of HIV infection is caught up with their existing social exclusion. In contrast, one reason for wanting to test amongst girls was the health of future children. While out-of-school youth understood the role of VCT in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the obstacles to acting on those intentions included the context of poverty, gender inequalities, stigma and the fear of gossip. Campaigns have succeeded in raising awareness, but translating awareness into action remains a central problem.
Keywords : HIV/AIDS; out-of-school youth; South Africa; VCT.