'What I've noticed what they need is the stats': Lay HIV counsellors' reports of working in a task-orientated health care system
Counselling has been recognized as an important component of HIV and AIDS care, and an essential part of HIV testing. In South Africa, a commonly used model is for lay counsellors to be trained by non-governmental organizations and then to work alongside professionals in public health clinics. In studies of counselling in health care settings in the context of HIV, there has been a relative lack of attention to the organizational and systemic issues faced by counsellors and counselling programmes. Counsellors are involved in a dynamic interrelationship not only with their clients but also with the organizations in which they work. In this paper we report on counsellors' accounts of the impact of their unclear position on their work. Twenty-nine counsellors were interviewed using individual interviews and focus group discussions. The findings reveal a clash between an holistic counselling approach and a task-oriented health system. The results provide some indication of the need to consider workplace issues in planning and researching VCT.