Objective: To explore behaviour change, baseline risk behaviour, perception of risk, HIV disclosure and life events in health centre-based voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) clients.
Design and setting: Single-arm prospective cohort with before–after design at three (one urban and two rural) government health centres in Kenya; study duration 2 years, 1999–2001.
Subjects: Consecutive eligible adult clients.
Main outcome measures: Numbers of sexual partners, partner type, condom use, reported symptoms of sexually transmitted infection, HIV disclosure and life events.
Results: High rates of enrolment and follow-up provided a demographically representative sample of 401 clients with mean time to follow-up of 7.5 months. Baseline indicators showed that clients were at higher risk than the general population, but reported a poor perception of risk. Clients with multiple partners showed a significant reduction of sexual partners at follow-up (16% to 6%; p<0.001), and numbers reporting symptoms of sexually transmitted infection decreased significantly also (from 40% to 15%; p<0.001). Condom use improved from a low baseline. Low rates of disclosure (55%) were reported by HIV-positive clients. Overall, no changes in rates of life events were seen.
Conclusion: This study suggests that significant prevention gains can be recorded in clients receiving health centre-based VCT services in Africa. Prevention issues should be considered when refining counselling and testing policies for expanding treatment programmes.
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Sponsorship: The study was funded by the UK Department for International Development, through The Futures Group International.
Competing interests: None declared.
Note: The UK Department for International Development and the Futures Group International can accept no responsibility for any information presented or views expressed.
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