Implementation of Couples’ Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing Services in Durban, South Africa

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Kilembe W, Wall KM, Mokgoro M, Mwaanga A, Dissen E, Kamusoko M, Phiri H, Sakulanda J, Davitte J, Reddy T, Brockman M, Ndung'u T, Allen S. Implementation of couples' voluntary HIV counseling and testing services in Durban, South Africa. BMC Public Health. 2015 Jul 2;15:601. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1959-z.

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Heterosexual couples
Couples’ HIV voluntary counseling and testing
South Africa
HIV prevention
Implementation science


Couples’ voluntary HIV counseling and testing (CVCT) is an evidence-based intervention that significantly reduces HIV incidence in couples. Despite the high prevalence of HIV and HIV couple serodiscordance in South Africa, there are few CVCT services.


From February-June 2013, The Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group provided support, training, and technical assistance for local counselors and promoters to pilot CVCT services in five hospital-based clinics in Durban, South Africa. Client-level data (age, gender, years cohabiting, pregnancy status, previous testing, antiretroviral treatment (ART) status, neighborhood, and test site) collected as a component of routine CVCT service operation is presented stratified by couple serostatus.


Twenty counselors and 28 promoters completed training. Of 907 couples (1,814 individuals) that underwent CVCT, prevalence of HIV was 41.8 % and prevalence of HIV serodiscordance was 29.5 % (19.3 % M-F+, 10.3 % M + F-). Most participants were 25–34 years of age, and this group had the highest prevalence. Previous individual HIV testing was low (50 % for men, 63 % for women). Only 4 % of couples reported previous CVCT. Most (75 %) HIV+ partners were not on ART, and HIV+ individuals in discordant couples were more likely to be on ART than those in concordant positive couples. Pregnancy among HIV+ women was not associated with previous HIV testing or ART use.


Implementation of standard CVCT services was found to be feasible in Durban. The burden of HIV and couple serodiscordance in Durban was extremely high. CVCT would greatly benefit couples in Durban as an HIV prevention strategy.

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