How to “Live a Good Life”: Aging and HIV Testing in Rural South Africa

Enid Schatz, Brian Houle, Sanyu A. Mojola, Nicole Angotti, Jill Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective: The African HIV epidemic is aging, yet HIV testing behavior studies either exclude older persons or include too few to say much about age differences. Method: Strategically combining focus group interviews (participants in 40s/50s/60s-plus age groups) and survey data from rural South Africa (where HIV prevalence peaks in the late 30s, but continues to be over 10% into the late 60s), we examine gender and life course variation, motivations, and barriers in HIV testing. Results: We find significant gender differences—Women test at higher rates at younger ages, men at older ages. Our qualitative data not only highlight recognition of testing importance but also suggest gendered motivations and perceptions of testing. Men and women report similar barriers, however, including fear of finding out their (positive) HIV status, limited confidentiality, and partner nondisclosure. Discussion: We conclude with recommendations to increase HIV testing uptake among older adults including home testing, couples testing, and HIV testing concurrently with noncommunicable diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-732
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


  • HIV prevention policy
  • HIV testing
  • South Africa
  • aging
  • focus groups
  • mixed methods


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