Acceptability and challenges of implementing voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) in rural Zimbabwe: evidence from the Regai Dzive Shiri Project

AIDS Care. 2010 Jan;22(1):81-8. doi: 10.1080/09540120903012577.


Voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) is an important component of HIV prevention and care. Little research exists on its acceptability and feasibility in rural settings. This paper examines the acceptability and feasibility of providing VCT using data from two sub-studies: (1) client-initiated VCT provided in rural health centres (RHCs) and (2) researcher-initiated VCT provided in a non-clinic community setting. Nurses provided client-initiated VCT in 39 RHCs in three Zimbabwean provinces (2004-2007). Demographic data and HIV status were collected. Qualitative data were also collected to assess rural communities' impressions of services. In a second study in 2007, VCT was offered to participants in a population-based HIV prevalence survey. Quantitative data from clinic-based VCT show that of 3585 clients aged > or =18, 79.4% (95% CI: 78.0-80.7%) were female; young people (aged 18-24) comprised 21.1%. Overall, 32.9% (95% CI: 31.4-34.5%) tested HIV positive. Young people were less likely to be HIV positive 13.5% (95% CI: 11.1-16.1%) vs. 38.1% (95% CI: 36.3-39.9%). In the second study conducted in a non-clinic setting, 27.0% (n=1368/5052) of participants opted to test. Young people were as likely to test as adults (27.3% vs. 26.9%) and an equal proportion of men and women tested. Overall during the second survey, 18.8% (95% CI: 16.7-21.0%) of participants tested positive (youth = 8.4% (95% CI: 6.4-10.7%); adults = 29.1% (95% CI: 25.7-32.7%)). Qualitative data, unique to clinics only, suggested that adults identify RHCs as acceptable VCT sites, whereas young people expressed reservations around these venues. Males reported considering VCT only after becoming ill. While VCT offered through RHCs is acceptable to women, it seems that men and youth are less comfortable with this venue. When VCT was offered in a non-clinic setting, numbers of men and women testing were similar. These data suggest that it may be possible to improve testing uptake in rural communities using non-clinic settings.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis / psychology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Counseling / organization & administration
  • Counseling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Rural Health
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult
  • Zimbabwe / epidemiology