If a pilot study conducted in rural KwaZulu-Natal is anything to go by, back-yard shebeens will soon be a testing site for HIV/Aids.
That's after research conducted in Msinga, in the Umzinyathi district, among 503 shebeen patrons between March and September last year, showed that over 90% of men were willing to be tested in shebeens.
The study was conducted by Dr Sheela Shenoi, an assistant professor in the Aids programme of the infectious diseases section at Yale University School of Medicine, with Dr Tony Moll, clinical manager at the Church of Scotland Hospital in Tugela Ferry, as the principal investigator.
Moll said the US-funded pilot study to determine if shebeens were a suitable testing site was presented at the three-day South African Aids Conference in Durban this week.
Details of the study are still to be published in a medical journal but it found that shebeens were a good place to test young people and determine their high-risk behaviour, given the stigma around being tested at clinics and that men were a "hard to reach" group for HIV and TB screening.
Shebeens are popular among young people, especially at weekends.