VCT services for HIV play a huge role in the national AIDS programme in sub-Saharan Africa. These services offer counselling for those receiving their results and also provide a window of oppourtunity for those infected by HIV to receive antiretroviral therapy as it becomes more widely available.
The point of VCT services is to help people learn about their HIV results and to receive the appropriate counselling. VCT sessions for HIV are an opportunity to promote changes in behavior which in turn will help reduce the risk of HIV among adults who are sexually active, as well as referring them for further treatment if they are HIV positive. However, uptake of such services is very low among high-risk and HIV-positive groups in some settings.
Approximately a third of the men interviewed and a quarter of the women, expressed an interest in the VCT service. However, only 12 percent of men and 7 percent of women went on to complete VCT. When researchers looked into why VCT was unpopular within cetain group settings they found that failure to complete VCT was down to a number of reasons, for example the higher number of men who took part in VCT correlates with a higher proportion of HIV-positive men knowing their HIV status than HIV-positive women.
Researchers concluded that a disproportionate number of women who may be in need of additional referral treatment are failing to access VCT and are potentially missing out on further treatment.