The European project "HIV community-based testing practices in Europe" (HIV-COBATEST) has contributed to the establishment of a network of community-based voluntary counselling and testing services (CBVCTs) that monitors and evaluates HIV testing activity in the communities. The objective of this paper is to describe the data that have been collected during 2014 by the COBATEST network in order to provide an insight into testing activity of CBVCTs in Europe. Members of the CBVCT network share common instruments for data collection and data entry. The network has a common database that allows global data analysis and comparison between different centres. In 2014, 40 CBVCTs of 18 European countries were participating in the network, and, from those, 20 CBVCTs were using the common COBATEST data collection tools. In these 20 CBVCTs, a total of 9266 HIV screening tests were performed on 8554 people, of which 1.58% (135/8554) were reactive and 51.1% (69/135) confirmed positive. Five cases were false positives, and 84.1% (58/69) of the confirmed positive cases were linked to care. Most of the tested individuals were men (70.8%), between 21 and 35 years of age (57.6%) and natives (67.1%). A higher proportion of men who had sex with men (MSM) (38.8%; 3267/8554) were tested compared to heterosexual men (27.7%) and women (23.5%). Rapid blood test was used in 78.5% of the cases and mostly performed in CBVCT offices (88.3%). Among sex workers (SWs), the percentage of reactive screening tests was particularly high (4.0%), especially among male SWs (7.7%) as compared to other risk groups, such as MSM (3.1%). The COBATEST network contributes to the availability of standardized information about the activity and impact of CBVCT centres in Europe. This information and standardized tools can help improve these services and inform decision-makers to better contextualize these interventions within their national HIV-prevention programmes.
Keywords: Europe; HIV infection–diagnosis–prevention and control–therapy; community health services; counselling; early diagnosis; health services accessibility.