Factors associated with HIV testing among sexually active South African youth aged 15-24 years

AIDS Care. 2009 Apr;21(4):456-67. doi: 10.1080/09540120802282586.


HIV infection is high among South African youth but most report being unaware of their HIV status. We explored the correlates of HIV testing using data from youth aged 15-24 years old who reported being sexually experienced during a national survey conducted in South Africa in 2003 (N=7665). Among sexually experienced youth, 32.7% of females and 17.7% of males reported having been tested for HIV. In multivariable analysis, ever being pregnant (OR = 2.97; 95% CI 2.36-3.73), ever starting a conversation about HIV/AIDS (OR = 1.29; 95% CI 1.0-1.65) and urban residence (OR = 2.0; 95% CI 1.58-2.52) were independent correlates of HIV testing among sexually experienced females. Among sexually experienced males, HIV-positive status (OR = 1.76; 95% CI 1.14-2.73), personally knowing someone that died of AIDS (OR = 1.68; 95% CI 1.14-2.47), being aged 20-24 years (OR = 1.56; 95% CI 1.10-2.22) and having completed high school (OR = 1.58; 95% CI 1.17-2.12) were independent correlates of HIV testing. The following factors were significantly associated with HIV testing among both men and women; ever talking to parents about HIV/AIDS, ever participating in a loveLife programme, a higher frequency of visits to a clinic in the past 12 months and non-black race (p<0.05). There is a need to better understand the correlates of HIV testing to ensure that adolescent HIV prevention programmes actively promote HIV testing among this group. Specific attention needs to be paid to young women who do not access antenatal care and young men who are less regular users of routine clinical care. Communication is a significant predictor of having tested for HIV and should be encouraged with parents and through intervention programmes for adolescents. Finally, specific attention must be paid to increasing access to HIV testing for at-risk adolescents in rural communities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis
  • Adolescent
  • Attitude to Health
  • Communication*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Health
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • South Africa
  • Young Adult