HIV testing and counselling toolkit
HIV testing and counselling services are a gateway to HIV prevention, care and treatment.
HIV testing and counselling services are a gateway to HIV prevention, care and treatment. The benefits of the knowledge of HIV status include the following;
- At the individual level – enhanced ability to reduce the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV; access to HIV care, treatment and support; and protection of unborn infants.
- At the community level – a wider knowledge of HIV status and its links to interventions can lead to a reduction in denial, stigma and discrimination and to collective responsibility and action.
- At the population level – a knowledge of HIV epidemiological trends can influence the policy environment, normalize HIV/AIDS and reduce stigma and discrimination.
In the communities that have been longest and hardest hit by the epidemic an increasing number of people with HIV are becoming ill and need care, treatment and support. However, most people with HIV are unaware of their HIV status. Scaling up HIV testing and counselling services is a critical step for scaling up a range of interventions in HIV/AIDS prevention, care, treatment and support. In September 2003, WHO made a call to action for a target of providing access to ARV treatment for three million people in resource-limited settings by 2005 and of working towards universal access. This requires that many more millions of people be tested for HIV and counselled in order to identify those who can benefit from immediate access to treatment, and to prevention and support services. Indeed, to the increased availability of ARV treatment is likely to generate a dramatically increased demand for HIV testing and counselling.
WHO and UNAIDS released in May 2007, the Guidance to Provider-initiated HIV Testing and Counselling in Health Facilities, which articulates recommendations developed over the course of a year-long consultation with many different stakeholders. This guidance which builds on previous policy positions off both WHO and UNAIDS encourages health care providers to routinely recommend HIV testing and counselling to all patients who present with conditions that suggest underlying HIV infection.
Recent inclusion to the Toolkit
In June 2006, a number of documents relating to the policy and provision of HIV testing and counselling to infants and children were added to the toolkit. They include a selection of documents covering policies, child's rights and strategic frameworks, child-focused counselling, consent, confidentiality and disclosure, clinical diagnosis and laboratory issues, monitoring and evaluation and case studies.