An Implementation Evaluation of a Voluntary Counselling and Testing Programme for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)

By Anderson, Tarryn N.; Louw-Potgieter, Joha | SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, January 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

An Implementation Evaluation of a Voluntary Counselling and Testing Programme for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)


Anderson, Tarryn N., Louw-Potgieter, Joha, SA Journal of Industrial Psychology


Introduction

Key focus of the study

The main focus of this study was to assess whether or not a Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) programme was implemented with fidelity in a university setting. The study focused on the following questions: who participated in the programme; how was the programme rolled out; and were there enough resources to implement the programme properly?

Background to the study

The rapid spread of the immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is one of the most serious health issues confronting both developed and developing countries worldwide. The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa accounts for three-quarters of the worldwide HIV burden (Standton et al., 1998). Antiretroviral treatments have improved the quality of life for people living with HIV and AIDS, but there is currently no cure or vaccine available for them (Coetzee & Patel, 2000). Prevention seems, therefore, the best way to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS.

VCT is becoming increasingly recognised as a component of effective HIV prevention initiatives (Day et al., 2003; United Nations Population Fund [UNFPA], 2002). It provides important HIV-related information to individuals who may be at risk of contracting HIV. Furthermore, it provides treatment and support to those who are infected (Subramanian, Gupte, Mathai, Boopathi & Dorairaj, 2008). VCT generally consists of three stages, namely, (1) pre-test counselling and assessment of risk, (2) a rapid test with same-day results and (3) post-test counselling. VCT is perceived by some researchers and medical practitioners as a milestone for the prevention of HIV and the provision of support for those living with HIV (Mabunda, 2004). However, specific implementation protocols need to be followed in order for this intervention to be effective (Bhagwanjee, Petersen, Akintola & George, 2008; Mundy & Dickinson, 2004).

Because of the high prevalence of HIV and AIDS amongst young people in South Africa most wellness programmes at universities contain a component about HIV and AIDS prevention. The Higher Education HIV and AIDS programme (HEAIDS), funded by the European Union, provides limited financial assistance to universities to help them upgrade their HIV and AIDS programmes. A university in the Western Cape has used this funding to implement a VCT programme. Although there are ample programme documents, no systematic evaluation of this programme has taken place.

This evaluation study seeks to determine whether or not the VCT programme at this university has been implemented according to its original plan. As an implementation evaluation the study contains the following steps:

* a detailed description of the programme plan

* a programme theory based on the programme activities as described

* a review of similar programmes or social science literature to test the plausibility of the programme theory

* an implementation evaluation consisting of questions based on the theory that relates to the target population, programme delivery and resources.

Each of these steps will be discussed below.

Programme description

The programme description was elicited by means of programme documents (Centre for Human Development, 2002; Coetzee & Patel, 2000; Davidson, n.d.; Family Health International, 2003; Landon, 2007, 2008, 2009; Smuts, 2000). A draft of the description was submitted to the programme manager who verified it and gave permission for an implementation evaluation. Below is the detailed programme description.

The VCT programme under evaluation was developed by Dr Wendy Orr in 1995. Together with the Dean of Students, Dr Orr also developed an HIV and AIDS policy for the university which protects individual rights and encourages VCT. Dr Orr and Sister Knighton-Fitt developed the process of the VCT and a step-by-step plan for the pre- and post-test counselling sessions. …

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