Journal Article

The HIV testing experiences of adolescents in Ndola, Zambia: Do families and friends matter?

This study explored how adolescents involve their families, friends and sex partners when making decisions about seeking HIV voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) and disclosing their HIV-status. The study is based on 40 qualitative in-depth interviews with 16 to 19 year olds who knew their HIV status in Ndola, Zambia. The findings show that: a) almost half of the youth turned to family members for advice or approval prior to seeking VCT; b) a disapproving reaction from family members or friends often discouraged youth from attending VCT until they found someone supportive; c) informants often attended VCT alone or with a friend, but rarely with a family member; and d) disclosure was common to family and friends, infrequent to sex partners, and not linked to accessing care and support services. Family members need access to information on VCT so they can support young peoples’ decisions to test for HIV and to disclose their HIV status. These results reinforce the need to provide confidential VCT services for adolescents and the need to develop and test innovative strategies to reach adolescents, their families and sex partners with VCT information and services.