Background: HIV testing is still stigmatized among many high-risk groups in China, whereas routine syphilis testing has been widely accepted at sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics. This project used the platform of a rapid syphilis screening test to expand HIV test uptake. The objective of this study was to use multilevel modeling to analyze determinants of syphilis and HIV-testing uptake at STI clinics in China.
Methods: 2061 STI patients at 6 clinics in Guangdong Province were offered free rapid syphilis and free rapid HIV testing. Test uptake was defined by patient receipt of results and a multilevel model was used to analyze predictors of uptake.
Results: This was the first syphilis or HIV test for the large majority (1388, 77.7%) of participants. Syphilis test uptake and HIV test uptake were high (1681, 81.6%, syphilis test uptake; 1673, 81.2% HIV test uptake). HIV test uptake was significantly concordant with syphilis test uptake (τb = 0.89, P < 0.001). The most parsimonious model of refusing HIV test uptake included the following variables: being married, having a previous HIV test, being unaccompanied, and participating in the last 2 months of the study.
Conclusions: STI clinic-based screening for syphilis and HIV represents an excellent opportunity for scaling up integrated services, especially in South China where syphilis and sexually transmitted HIV cases are both rapidly increasing. Effective integration of HIV testing into routine clinical practice requires an understanding not only of individual test uptake but also of the broader social context of HIV testing.