Background: In surveys, clients have expressed preferences for alternatives to traditional HIV counseling and testing. Few data exist to document how offering such alternatives affects acceptance of HIV testing and receipt of test results.
Objectives: This randomized controlled trial compared types of HIV tests and counseling at a needle exchange and 2 bathhouses to determine which types most effectively ensured that clients received test results.
Methods: Four alternatives were offered on randomly determined days: (1) traditional test with standard counseling, (2) rapid test with standard counseling, (3) oral fluid test with standard counseling, and (4) traditional test with choice of written pretest materials or standard counseling.
Results: Of 17,010 clients offered testing, 7014 (41%) were eligible; of those eligible, 761 (11%) were tested: 324 at the needle exchange and 437 at the bathhouses. At the needle exchange, more clients accepted testing (odds ratio [OR] = 2.3; P < 0.001) and received results (OR = 2.6; P < 0.001) on days when the oral fluid test was offered compared with the traditional test. At the bathhouses, more clients accepted oral fluid testing (OR = 1.6; P < 0.001), but more clients overall received results on days when the rapid test was offered (OR = 1.9; P = 0.01).
Conclusions: Oral fluid testing and rapid blood testing at both outreach venues resulted in significantly more people receiving test results compared with traditional HIV testing. Making counseling optional increased testing at the needle exchange but not at the bathhouses.