Using survey data collected immediately after referral for ART (N = 87), this study examined ART-readiness among individuals (18 years and older) attending a mobile health clinic in South Africa. Most participants reported being very ready (84%) and motivated (85%) to start ART, but only 72% were assessed as ready for ART on all measures. Treatment readiness was lower among individuals who did not think they would test HIV-positive (aOR 0.26, p < 0.05) and among individuals who reported being in good health (aOR 0.44, p < 0.1). In contrast, higher readiness was associated with better ART knowledge (aOR 4.31, p < 0.05) and knowing someone who had experienced positive health effects from ART (aOR 2.65, p < 0.05). Results indicate that post-test counselling will need to be designed to deal with surprise at HIV diagnosis, and that health messaging needs to be carefully crafted to support uptake of ART among HIV-positive but healthy individuals. Further research is needed on effective post-test counselling approaches and effective framing of health messaging to increase awareness of the multiple positive benefits of early ART initiation and corresponding readiness to engage in treatment.
Keywords: Barriers to ART initiation; HIV/AIDS; Linkage to care; Treatment readiness.