HIV testing and counselling is a critical gateway to further services, and is essential for effective HIV prevention and treatment (WHO, 2012 (PDF)). In many European countries, HIV testing efforts are failing to identify HIV infections early enough, and substantial proportions of people with HIV are unaware of their infection (Coenen et al. 2008; Hamers et al. 2008). National, European and Global guidelines offer recommendations about the different ways of obtaining informed consent, undertaking pre-test discussion and post-test counselling, delivering test results and making referrals to specialist services after testing. While guidance is diverse, there are sometimes disparate recommendations and information gaps, and it is uncertain to what extent these are informed by evidence or expert opinion.
In response, CSRH has been commissioned by HIV in Europe to review testing and counselling guidelines across European country contexts. This project will contribute to the evidence base that guides the development and implementation of HIV testing models, which are acceptable to providers and clients, feasible in diverse practice settings and effective in promoting risk reduction.
Ongoing research consists of a review of guidance documents to examine HIV testing and counselling recommendations, complemented by a review of academic literature to extend and update existing guidelines. A European stakeholder survey – consisting of 379 responses from policy makers, health service providers and NGO activists in 52 countries – has been undertaken to collect information regarding current HIV testing processes across Europe. The final stage of the project will involve an expert consultation around the survey results to gain consensus about new recommendations and best practice protocols for HIV testing.
HIV in Europe