HIV testing and counselling toolkit
The public health approach for scaling up HIV testing and counselling services is based on the following guiding principles.
- In order to work towards universal access to HIV testing and counselling services, it is vital to build and sustain political commitment to scaling them up in the context of, and as a key component of, HIV prevention, care, treatment and support.
- HIV testing and counselling services of satisfactory quality must involve the development of and support for efforts to improve the awareness of the benefits of HIV testing and counselling. This helps to normalize HIV and the corresponding testing and counselling services and to reduce stigma and discrimination.
- It is vital to involve people with HIV, communities and other key stakeholders in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluating of HIV testing and counselling services in order to ensurr that they are appropriate and effective, and to achieve engagement in the services on offer.
- It is important to develop and use standardized HIV testing and counselling protocols as part of a public health approach for scaling up testing and counselling, to ensure a high quality of services.
- HIV testing and counselling services must be client-centred and have effective links to post-test services and support. Client-centred HIV testing and counselling services respond to the needs of clients and make clients feel accepted and valued.
- HIV testing and counselling services must be ethically. Mandatory and compulsory HIV testing services are not effective for public health purposes nor is it ethical. The following principles must be respected.
Guiding principles are the foundation of successful HIV testing and counselling services
They provide a basis for developing and promoting good practice in these services and help to ensure that the services are appropriate and effective and that prevention, care and treatment outcomes are optimal.
These guiding principles should inform the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of HIV counselling and testing services.
HIV testing must be voluntary
The crucial elements in obtaining informed consent are:
- providing pre-test information on the purpose of the testing and on post-test services and support;
- ensuring understanding;
- respecting the rights of clients to decide whether to be tested.
Post-test support and services are crucial
The results of HIV testing should always be offered to the persons who are tested, along with appropriate post-test information, counselling, and referral to care, support and treatment.
Confidentiality must be protected
In the rare event that confidentiality has to be breached, actions must be guided by ethical and rational considerations must guide actions (ref. Opening up the HIV/AIDS epidemic).
This involves making the best use of resources and monitoring and evaluating HIV testing and counselling services for quality assurance.