Socio-economic differences in the uptake of HIV testing and associated factors in South Africa

Background Improved understanding of barriers to HIV testing is important for reaching the first of the UNAIDS 90–90-90 targets, which states that 90% of HIV positive individuals ought to know their HIV status. This study examined socio-economic status (SES) differences in HIV testing uptake and associated factors among youth and adults 15 years and older in South Africa. Methods This study used data from a national cross-sectional, population-based household survey conducted in 2017 using a multi-stage sampling design. A composite SES score was created using multiple correspondence analyses of household assets; households were classified into wealth quintiles and dichotomised into low SES/poorest (lowest 3 quintiles) and high SES/less-poor (highest 2 quintiles). Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression models were used to examine factors associated with the uptake of HIV testing in low and high SES households. Results HIV testing uptake was 73.8 and 76.7% among low and high SES households, respectively, both of which were below the first 90 targets. Among both low and high SES households, increased HIV testing uptake was significantly associated with females than males. The decreased likelihood was significantly associated with residing in rural formal areas than urban areas, those with no education or low levels of educational attainment and alcohol drinkers among low SES households. Whites and Indians/Asians had a decreased likelihood than Black Africans in high SES households. Conclusions HIV testing interventions should target males, residents in rural formal areas, those with no or low education and those that consume alcohol in low SES households, including Whites and Indians/Asians from high SES households in order to bridge socio-economic disparities in the uptake of HIV testing. This should entail expanding HIV testing beyond traditional centres for voluntary counselling and testing through outreach efforts, including mobile testing and home-based testing.