6. Promoting VCT among South African students: Are we missing the message?
Mass media campaigns promoting VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing) form a cornerstone of the efforts to curb the spread of HIV in South Africa. In this chapter the focus falls on determinants of South African students’ VCT uptake and on the efficacy of a brochure that aims to persuade them to go for VCT. Empirical support was found for the predicted role of some of the theory-derived determinants of students’ intentions to go for VCT. Significant differences appeared to exist between various groups of students with regard to their intention to go for VCT and the determinants of this intention. Questionnaire data indicate that students fear that if they were to test HIV positive, they would not be able to cope with the negative emotional, physical and social consequences. In as much as the tested brochure does not adequately address the determinants of students’ VCT uptake nor the available measures to cope with the negative consequences of testing HIV positive, the brochure had, as could be predicted, no impact on students’ intentions to go for VCT. The experimental data suggest that message designers should differentiate between segments of student audiences when designing messages to persuade them to go for VCT.