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Design and Evaluation of a Drama-Based Intervention to Promote Voluntary Counseling and HIV Testing in a South African Community

Middelkoop, Keren MBChB*; Myer, Landon PhD†‡; Smit, Joalida MA*; Wood, Robin MBChB, FCP*; Bekker, Linda-Gail MBChB, FCP, PhD*

Sexually Transmitted Diseases: August 2006 - Volume 33 - Issue 8 - p 524-526
doi: 10.1097/01.olq.0000219295.50291.1d

Background: Voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) services are a major component of HIV prevention and treatment efforts. We developed a drama-based intervention to promote VCT services in a peri-urban community in South Africa.

Methods: Young adults from the community received training in HIV/AIDS and drama, and developed sketches to address perceived barriers to VCT. Over 12 months, 80 performances were held in busy community settings. The intervention was evaluated through changes in VCT uptake at the local clinic compared with comparable communities nearby.

Results: After the start of the intervention in August 2003, a 172% increase in the uptake of VCT services was observed in the intervention community. This was significantly greater than demand for VCT in either of the control communities during the same period (P <0.0001).

Conclusion: A structured, community-based education program based on drama can lead to substantial increases in the demand for VCT services in resource-limited settings.

A structured, community-based drama intervention to promote voluntary counseling and testing in a periurban South African community led to significant increases in uptake of these services.

From the *Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine and the †Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit, School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; and the ‡Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY

The authors thank S. Mthimunye, T. Pepeteka, T. Maqweqana, I. Matinise, P. Mdlulwa, N. Nashwa, and L. Vellem for their roles in the design and implementation of the intervention.

The educational programme and its evaluation were funded by the South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI).

Correspondence: Linda-Gail Bekker, PhD, Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road Observatory, 7925, Cape Town, South Africa. E-mail:

Received for publication September 28, 2005, and accepted November 29, 2005.

© Copyright 2006 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association