Assessing the Acceptability and Willingness to Use HIV Self-Testing among Student Nurses in a Private Nursing College, Gauteng Province, South Africa


Globally, there is increasing evidence that HIV self-testing (HIVST) is commonly practiced among health care workers (HCWs). Although HIVST kits are available in South Africa, their distribution and use remain unregulated and its acceptability, undocumented. The aim of the study was to explore the acceptability of HIV self-testing among student nurses, examine their willingness to use self-testing, and evaluate their views on the implementation of a regulated HIV self-testing programme. This was a qualitative explorative study, and six focus group discussions were conducted with 67 student nurses recruited from a private nursing college, in Pretoria, South Africa. Thematic analysis and NVivo10 qualitative software were used for data analysis. The nurses perceived HIVST as an acceptable option for HIV testing and most were willing to self-test. Self-testing will provide confidential and accessible HIV testing services, reduce the stigma associated with the condition, and increase partner testing and disclosure. HIVST is more likely to be practised if self-testing kits are easily accessible and affordable, and there are strategies to educate people before the adoption of HIVST. The lack of pre- and post-test counselling, the risk of inaccurate test results, and lack of strategies for the confirmation of self-testing results were the main arguments against HIVST. The high acceptance of HIVST among nurses suggests that HIVST is a feasible option to increase the uptake of HIV-testing among HCWs. However, pre- and post-test counselling should be considered important components in the implementation of self-testing services. Educational and awareness campaigns should precede the roll-out of the self-testing programs.

Share and Cite:

Madiba, S. , Segobola, M. and Mokgatle, M. (2015) Assessing the Acceptability and Willingness to Use HIV Self-Testing among Student Nurses in a Private Nursing College, Gauteng Province, South Africa. World Journal of AIDS, 5, 208-216. doi: 10.4236/wja.2015.53024.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] WHO/UNAIDS (2007) Guidance on Provider-Initiated HIV Testing and Counselling in Health Facilities. Geneva.
[2] Leon, N., Colvin, C.J., Lewin, S., Mathews, C. and Jennings, K. (2010) Provider-Initiated Testing and Counselling for HIV: From Debate to Implementation. SAMJ: South African Medical Journal, 100, 220-221.
[3] Dalal, S., Lee, C.W., Farirai, T., Schilsky, A., Goldman, T., Moore, J., et al. (2011) Provider-Initiated HIV Testing and Counseling: Increased Uptake in Two Public Community Health Centers in South Africa and Implications for Scale-Up. PLoS One, 6, e27293.
[4] Mavedzenge, S., Baggaley, R., Lo. Y.R. and Corbett, E. (2011) HIV Self-Testing among Health Workers: A Review of the Literature and Discussion of Current Practices, Issues and Options for Increasing Access to HIV Testing in Sub-Saharan Africa. WHO, Geneva.
[5] Richter, M., Venter, W. and Gray, A. (2012) Forum: Enabling HIV Self-Testing in South Africa. Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine, 13, 186-187.
[6] WHO (2013) Report on the First International Symposium on Self-Testing for HIV: The Legal, Ethical, Gender, Human Rights and Public Health Implications of HIV Self-Testing Scale-Up: Geneva, Switzerland.
[7] Kebede, B., Abate, T. and Mekonnen, D. (2014) HIV Self-Testing Practices among Health Care Workers: Feasibility and Options for Accelerating HIV Testing Services in Ethiopia. Pan African Medical Journal, 15, 50.
[8] Namakhoma, I., Bongololo, G., Bello, G., Nyirenda, L., Phoya, A., Phiri, S., et al. (2010) Negotiating Multiple Barriers: Health Workers’ Access to Counselling, Testing and Treatment in Malawi. AIDS Care, 22, 68-76.
[9] Kalibala, S., Tun, W., Cherutich, P., Nganga, A., Oweya, E. and Oluoch, P. (2014) Factors Associated with Acceptability of HIV Self-Testing among Health Care Workers in Kenya. AIDS and Behavior, 18, 405-414.
[10] Mavedzenge, S.N., Baggaley, R. and Corbett, E.L. (2013) A Review of Self-Testing for HIV: Research and Policy Priorities in a New Era of HIV Prevention. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 57, 126-138.
[11] Corbett, E. (2007) Health Worker Access to HIV/TB Prevention, Treatment and Care Services in Africa: Situational Analysis and Mapping of Routine and Current Best Practices. London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; WHO/HIV Department; WHO/TB Department; Global Health Workforce Alliance.
[12] Krause, J., Subklew-Sehume, F., Kenyon, C. and Colebunders, R. (2013) Acceptability of HIV Self-Testing: A Systematic Literature Review. BMC Public Health, 13, 735.
[13] Creswell, J.W. (2007) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Method: Choosing among Five Approaches. 2nd Edition, Thousand Oaks, Sage.
[14] Ganguli, I., Bassett, I.V., Dong, K.L. and Walensky, R.P. (2009) Home Testing for HIV Infection in Resource-Limited Settings. Current HIV/AIDS Reports, 6, 217-223.
[15] Richter, M., Venter, W. and Gray, A. (2010) Home Self-Testing for HIV: AIDS Exceptionalism Gone Wrong. SAMJ: South African Medical Journal, 100, 636-642.
[16] Spielberg, F., Levine, R.O. and Weaver, M. (2004) Self-testing for HIV: A New Option for HIV Prevention? The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 4, 640-646.
[17] Kumwenda, M., Munthali, A., Phiri, M., Mwale, D., Gutteberg, T., MacPherson, E., et al. (2014) Factors Shaping Initial Decision-Making to Self-Test amongst Cohabiting Couples in Urban Blantyre, Malawi. AIDS and Behavior, 18, 396-404.
[18] Myers, J.E., El-Sadr, W.M., Zerbe, A. and Branson, B.M. (2013) Rapid HIV Self-Testing: Long in Coming but Opportunities Beckon. AIDS, 27, 1687-1695.
[19] Pai, N.P., Sharma, J., Shivkumar, S., Pillay, S., Vadnais, C., Joseph, L., et al. (2013) Supervised and Unsupervised Self-Testing for HIV in High- and Low-Risk Populations: A Systematic Review. PLoS Medicine, 10, e1001414.
[20] Gardner, J. (2012) HIV Home Testing—A Problem or Part of the Solution? South African Journal of Bioethics and Law, 5, 15-19.
[21] Brown, A.N., Djimeu, E.W. and Cameron, D.B. (2014) A Review of the Evidence of Harm from Self-Tests. AIDS and Behavior, 18, 445-449.
[22] Ng, O.T., Chow, A.L., Lee, V.J., Chen, M.I., Win, M.K., Tan, H.H., et al. (2012) Accuracy and User-Acceptability of HIV Self-Testing Using an Oral Fluid-Based HIV Rapid Test. PLoS ONE, 7, e45168.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.