• voluntary counselling and testing;
  • HIV;
  • Tanzania;
  • cohort study


Objectives  To describe trends in voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) use and to assess whether high-risk and infected individuals are receiving counselling and learning their HIV status in rural Tanzania.

Methods  During two rounds of linked serological surveys (2003–2004 and 2006–2007) with anonymous HIV testing among adults, VCT was offered to all participants. The crude and adjusted odds ratios for completing VCT in each survey were calculated to compare uptake by demographic, behavioural and clinical characteristics, stratified by sex. Repeat testing patterns were also investigated.

Results  The proportion of participants completing VCT increased from 10% in 2003–2004 to 17% in 2006–2007, and among HIV-infected persons from 14% to 25%. A higher proportion of men than women completed VCT in both rounds, but the difference declined over time. Socio-demographic and behavioural factors associated with VCT completion were similar across rounds, including higher adjusted odds of VCT with increasing numbers of sexual partners in the past 12 months. The proportion having ever-completed VCT reached 26% among 2006–2007 attendees, with repeat testing rates highest among those aged 35–44 years. Among 3923 participants attending both rounds, VCT completion in 2006–2007 was 17% among 3702 who were HIV negative in both rounds, 19% among 124 who were HIV infected in both rounds and 22% among 96 who seroconverted between rounds.

Conclusion  VCT services are attracting HIV-infected and high-risk individuals. However, 2 years after the introduction of antiretroviral therapy, the overall uptake remains low. Intensive mobilisation efforts are needed to achieve regular and universal VCT use.