Understanding school-going adolescent’s preferences for accessing HIV and contraceptive care: fndings from a discrete choice experiment among learners in Gauteng, South Africa

By  Caroline Mandimika  Dr. Lawrence Long  Dr. Aneesa Moolla  Sithabile Mngadi  Nkosinathi Ngcobo  Constance Mongwenyana  Naomi Lince‑Deroche  Dr Sophie Pascoe  |  | 



Many Adolescents in Sub-Saharan Africa do not access HIV and reproductive health services optimally. To improve uptake of these services, it is important to understand the Learners’ preferences for how services are delivered so that implementation strategies can reflect this.


A discrete choice experiment (DCE) was used to elicit preferences. The DCE was completed between 07/2018 and 09/2019 and conducted in 10 high schools situated in neighbourhoods of varying socioeconomic status (SES) in Gauteng (South Africa). Learners aged≥15 years (Grades 9–12) were consented and enrolled in the DCE. Parental consent and assent were required if<18 years old. Conditional logistic regression was used to determine preferred attributes for HIV and contraceptive service delivery. Results were stratified by gender and neighbourhood SES quintile (1=Lowest SES; 5=Highest SES).


805 Learners were enrolled (67% female; 66% 15–17 years; 51% in grades 9–10). 54% of Learners in quintile 1 schools had no monthly income (family support, grants, part-time jobs etc.); 38% in quintile 5 schools had access to R100 ($7.55) per month. Preferences for accessing HIV and contraceptive services were similar for male and female Learners. Learners strongly preferred services provided by friendly, non-judgmental staff (Odds ratio 1.63; 95% Confidence Interval: 1.55–1.72) where confidentiality was ensured (1.33; 1.26–1.40). They preferred services offered after school (1.14; 1.04–1.25) with value-added services like free Wi-Fi (1.19; 1.07–1.32), food (1.23; 1.11–1.37) and youth-only waiting areas (1.18; 1.07–1.32). Learners did not have a specific location preference, but preferred not to receive services within the community (0.82; 0.74–0.91) or school (0.88; 0.80–0.96). Costs to access services were a deterrent for most Learners irrespective of school neighbourhood; female Learners were deterred by costs ≥$3.85 (0.79; 0.70–0.91); males by costs≥R100 ($7.55) (0.86; 0.74-1.00).


Preferences that encourage utilisation of services do not significantly differ by gender or school neighbourhood SES. Staff attitude and confidentiality are key issues affecting Learners’ decisions to access HIV and contraceptive services. Addressing how healthcare providers respond to young people seeking sexual and reproductive health services is critical for improving adolescents’ uptake of these services.

Publication details

BMC Health Services Research