HIV testing and counselling

Entry point to prevention services

Knowledge of serostatus (whether a person is HIV positive) is the key entry point to prevention services in populations at risk, as well as to care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS. Knowing that one is HIV infected is a prerequisite to accessing HIV care. Testing strengthens prevention efforts, encourages infected people to avoid transmission to others and motivates those who are not infected to remain so through risk reduction strategies.

Counselling is also an essential component of public health prevention strategies for sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV/AIDS. It allows health care providers to communicate with their clients and to help them decide to change their behaviour. Testing and counselling can lead to a reduction in the number of sexual partners, increased condom use, fewer STIs and wider use of safe injecting practices.

Promoting testing and counselling is vital in the countries of eastern Europe, where these services are not currently widely available. Promotion efforts aim to increase access to information and appropriate health care services for the general population and particularly marginalized vulnerable groups.