Introduction: The results of the Voluntary HIV-1 Counselling and Testing Efficacy Study support the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of HIV voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) for reducing risk behaviors in three developing countries.
Methods: This report explores the social consequences of HIV VCT by examining the incidence of positive and negative life events at the first follow-up (an average of 7.3 months after recruitment). The incidence of positive and negative life events was compared between: (i) those who were randomly assigned to HIV VCT versus health information (HI); (ii) those who tested seronegative and those who tested seropositive; and (iii) those who disclosed their serostatus and those who did not.
Results: The occurrence of most negative life events was rare (0--4%); positive life events were more common (17--39%). With few exceptions, those assigned to HIV VCT were no more likely to experience negative life events than those who were assigned to HI. For individuals, positive serostatus was associated with increased support from health professionals, the break-up of a marriage and being neglected or disowned by their family. Serodiscordant couples with an HIV-positive woman were most likely to report the break-up of a marriage (20 versus 0--7% for other groups) and the break-up of a sexual relationship (45 versus 22--38% for other groups). Disclosure was associated with strengthening of a sexual relationship except for HIV-seropositive women.
Conclusion: These findings, in combination with findings supporting the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of HIV VCT, support the dissemination of HIV VCT with appropriate support services in developing countries.