A community-based HIV counselling and testing programme found a decreasing proportion of new HIV testers in South Africa
This article assesses the history of HIV testing among community-based HIV counselling and testing (CBCT) clients between 2014 and 2018 in 13 South African districts. Consenting clients were tested for HIV and interviewed to categorise as first-time testers or repeat testers. Of the 1 800 753 clients tested for HIV, 15.7% (95% CI [15.6–15.7]) were first-time testers. The rate of identifying first-time testers decreased by 10.7% in four years from 18.4% in year one to 7.7% in year four. A substantial proportion (5.5% [5.4–5.6]) of HIV-positive people not yet on antiretroviral treatment sought HIV re-test, of whom nearly half (48.4% [47.1–49.6]) did not disclose their HIV-positive status during pre-counselling and were re-tested. A decreasing proportion of first-time testers may signal positive progress towards universal HIV testing. This downward trend should be sustained to control the HIV epidemic.
Keywords: community-based HIV counselling and testing, repeat testers, first-time testers, linkage to care, South Africa