HIV voluntary counselling and testing in Nakuru, Kenya: findings from a community survey


Dr Prathibha Varkey, 200 1st St SW, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA. Tel: 001 507 284 9966; fax: 001 507 284 4251; e-mail:



HIV voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) is important for prevention, detection and treatment of HIV infection. A study was conducted to determine the extent of utilization of VCT, and to study the attitudes and preferences of the community regarding VCT.


A total of 301 adults, aged 18–49 years, residing in Nakuru, Kenya were randomly selected using a two-stage sampling process. A self-administered questionnaire delivered during home visits was used to collect data over a 4-week period.


The majority of study participants (184 of 287; 64.1%) had never been tested for HIV; 77 (26.8%) had received VCT, and 26 (9.1%) had received HIV testing without counselling. A total of 219 (78.2%) of the 280 responding participants expressed readiness to have VCT. The majority of participants (216 of 296; 73%) preferred VCT, while 46 (15.5%) preferred testing without counselling. The majority (227; 76.7%) preferred couple testing and dedicated clinics and private doctors' offices as testing facilities. The choice of a nearby facility was ranked above the provision of anonymity by most participants (162 of 298; 54.4%; vice versa for 136 of 298; 45.6%).


With HIV/AIDS continuing to be a major public health concern in Kenya, the issues surrounding acceptance and use of VCT need to be addressed. Enhancing community awareness of the benefits of early HIV diagnosis, providing couple-based VCT as an integral part of VCT and increasing access to VCT testing sites may enhance utilization of VCT.