HIV testing in Europe: mapping policies

Health Policy. 2011 Dec;103(2-3):101-10. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2011.06.012. Epub 2011 Jul 27.


Objectives: In the absence of treatment and in the context of discrimination, HIV testing was embedded within exceptional procedures. With increasing treatment effectiveness, early HIV diagnosis became important, calling for the normalization of testing. National HIV testing policies were mapped to explore the characteristics and variations across European countries.

Methods: Key informants within the health authorities of all EU/EEA countries were questioned on HIV testing policies, which were assessed within a conceptual framework and the level of exceptionalism and normalization was scored based on defined attributes.

Results: Twenty-four out of 31 countries participated in the survey. Policies tended to support confidential voluntary testing, informed consent, and counselling. In the majority of countries, specific groups were targeted for provider-initiated testing. Taking together all attributes of HIV testing, 14 countries obtained a high score for exceptionalism, while only 3 achieved a high score on normalization. Italy, Lithuania and Romania had primarily exceptional procedures; Norway leant more towards normalization; Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and Denmark scored high in both.

Conclusions: In most EU/EEA countries, policies are integrating HIV testing in health care settings, through voluntary and targeted testing strategies. Current HIV testing policies exhibited a high level of exceptionalism with varying degrees of normalization. Further research should compare HIV testing policies with practices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis
  • Confidentiality
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Policy*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent
  • Male
  • Voluntary Programs