Original Research

The potential of offering HIV-related services in an optometry environment

Haseena Majid, Burt Davis
African Vision and Eye Health | Vol 79, No 1 | a513 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aveh.v79i1.513 | © 2020 Haseena Majid, Burt Davis | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 May 2019 | Published: 17 February 2020

About the author(s)

Haseena Majid, Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Burt Davis, Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


Background: Despite the successes of testing campaigns in South Africa, many people still do not know their human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) status, and the number of new infections remains high. Delayed access to testing is a contributing factor in this regard. Utilising less conventional health settings to test for HIV, such as optometry practices, could help increase the opportunities to test for HIV.

Aim: To investigate the potential of the optometry environment as a possible contributor to capacity building for HIV testing and counselling services.

Setting: Three optometry practices in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

Methods: A survey design approach was used with participants (n = 30) completing a researcher-designed 16-item questionnaire.

Results: The results showed that the optometry environment was generally perceived as conducive for possible HIV testing, as the majority of participants felt that testing for HIV at an optometry practice would be more convenient (90%; n = 27), compared to testing at a clinic, with a clear preference for testing for HIV at an optometry practice as opposed to a clinic (93%; n = 27).

Conclusion: The results of this study seem to illustrate a willingness within the optometry patient population to be receptive to the possibility of screening for HIV. However, while optometry falls within the ambit of primary health services for vision and eye health, the profession is yet to produce a guideline document detailing the exact scope of practitioners with regard to systemic health screenings. As such, HIV screening is not specified at present.


HIV/AIDS; testing; screening; counselling; optometry; voluntary counselling testing; VCT; HIV testing and counselling, HCT; HIV testing services; HTS


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