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‘All the World’s a stage’: what situational specifics and our methods of inquiry teach us about local responses to HIV testing in sub-Saharan Africa

Nicole Angotti, University of Colorado at Boulder
Amy Kaler, University of Alberta

This paper aims to show how our methods of inquiry affect what we learn about local responses to “HIV Testing”-- a key global AIDS intervention envisaged to address the spread of HIV-- in a high prevalence rural African setting. It explores differential responses to four themes (knowing one’s status, counseling messages (ABCs), ethics of testing, and antiretroviral treatment) across three distinct modes of qualitative inquiry (interviews, focus groups and a unique set of observational field journals that capture everyday conversations about HIV/AIDS) with attention to various situational specifics (who is present, nature of the interaction). Preliminary findings show the most favorable responses to testing in the interviews, mixed responses to testing in the focus groups, and the most negative responses to testing in the field journals. Careful consideration to situational specifics in our research methods is critical for those evaluating responses to interventions designed for individual and community benefit.

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Presented in Session 116: Anthropological demography and qualitative research