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Adolescents & Young People

A pilot study – Use of incentivized mobile technology to improve uptake of HIV testing services among 15 to 24-year olds.

In South Africa, the prevalence of adolescents who know their HIV status and those on antiretroviral treatment are low. Innovative approaches are needed to improve the uptake of HIV testing services among adolescents.


The aim of the study is to understand how technology with value-based incentives could:
  • Modify youth behaviour and promote their willingness to access HIV testing services
  • Inform the development of a behavioural economics-based model where youth can access HIV testing services confidentially.

Methodological approach

This study (31 July 2018-current) targeted 15 to 24-year olds in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Youth were invited for in-depth interviews (IDI) and focus group discussions (FGD). Data was collected in English, Setswana, or Zulu. Interviews were digitally recorded, transcribed, and translated. QSR NVIVO 10 software and an inductive thematic analysis framework was used. Themes were used to develop a discrete choice experiment survey (DCE).

Key Findings

A total of 25 youth with unknown HIV status were interviewed and three FGDs with youth of known HIV status were conducted. Twelve IDIs with males (n=3) and females (n=9) between 15 to 24 years old; and one FGD with females (18-24 years old) were used for the preliminary analysis. Key themes were youth being uncertain of the HIV testing procedure which lead to apprehension or fear of testing. They perceived clinic staff to be judgemental, felt that they did not want to be seen at the clinic and were concerned about being forced to disclose HIV results to family or friends. Youth felt that the location, type of HIV test and level of counselling support received could influence their decision to access HTS. Youth described interest in incentives to encourage testing, preferring those that they perceived to be important and/or financially beneficial. They also expressed interest in communicating and interacting on multiple platforms of social media when being educated about HIV care.

Conclusions: HTS among youth could improve if service provision and incentives are tailored to their needs. Insights gained from this work can help with innovative interventions to improve uptake of HTS among youth.


  • South African AIDS Conference 2019: Exploring perceptions that motivate youth to access HIV testing services in South Africa: Qualitative findings from the Youth Action for Health (YA4H) study
  • 10th IAS Conference on HIV Science:

Research area

HIV, adolescents and young people.


South Africa

Principal Investigator

Dr Candice Chetty-Makkan
Salome Charalambous (Co-PI);
Dr Chris Hoffmann (Co-PI)

Other Aurum researchers involved

Claire Botha, Wellington Maruma, Bakang Mosime, Don Mudgenzi


Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (SANTHE), a DELTAS Africa Initiative [grant # DEL-15-006]. The DELTAS Africa Initiative is an independent funding scheme of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS)’s Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) and supported by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) with funding from the Wellcome Trust [grant # 107752/Z/15/Z] and the UK government
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