Masters Study Explores HIV Counselling and Testing Preferences
Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Centre (HEARD) Research Fellow Mr Michael Strauss has been awarded a Master of Commerce in Economics degree.
“Increasing the Uptake of HIV Counselling and Testing Among High School Learners in KwaZulu-Natal: A Discrete Choice Experiment”, was the title of his dissertation which was supervised by Dr Bruce Rhodes of the School of Accounting and Finance and Dr Gavin George of HEARD.
According to Strauss, the focus of his research was on the preferences of high school learners in rural areas in KwaZulu-Natal for HIV counselling and testing (HCT) service delivery models.
He said it was a collaborative study between HEARD and the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), looking at behaviour change following medical male circumcision among high school learners.
Strauss said: ‘The findings of the study showed that the main drivers of choice regarding HCT for young people relate to confidentiality and costs, which have strong implications for the design of HCT services, and how they are offered to adolescents.’
Strauss said the results of the study contribute to the body of knowledge that could inform the integration of HCT into the newly developed South African Integrated Schools Health Policy. It was also in line with the work carried out at HEARD, which is involved in a number of projects looking at delivery of health services and health systems strengthening, and this work could help formulate strategies for reaching South African HIV targets by increasing uptake of services among the youth.
Even though juggling work, studies and family life was a challenge Strauss has had an opportunity to present his research at a number of conferences, most recently in Amsterdam last year at the AIDSImpact conference. He has plans to pursue a PhD in the near future.
‘I have had a number of other papers published with some outstanding academics. I am grateful for the support I have received, especially from my supervisors, Dr Bruce Rhodes and Dr Gavin George.’
Besides working on complex HIV and AIDS related research, Strauss is also a member of a band known as 24Skies. ‘I have recently finished recording an album with my band, which is currently available on iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/za/album/endless-anthem/id1042841845). We will be travelling to Hong Kong and Shanghai later this year to play a number of events there, as well as at several venues around South Africa.’