Reduced HIV risk behavior and increased use of care and support services have been demonstrated among adults accessing HIV voluntary counseling and testing (VCT). The impact of VCT on adolescents is, however, not known. Focus group discussions were held with adolescents and parents in two South African townships to establish the perceptions of and needs for VCT among young people. Ecological theory informed the analysis. Adolescents had limited experience of VCT, were afraid of knowing their HIV status, and felt that testing was only for symptomatic individuals. Youth felt that they would disclose their HIV status to family members who they felt would be most supportive. Youth were afraid of stigma and discrimination; rarely referring to the community as a source of support. Discussions highlighted the inappropriateness of clinical facilities for youth VCT. We conclude with recommendations for youth-friendly VCT services.
Health Education & Behavior (2008) 35 (1) 87-104 [DOI: 10.1177/1090198106286442]