Volunteer and confidential HIV counseling and testing
Voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) it’s a voluntary process, initiated by the clients themselves for voluntary counseling and testing for HIV. Many people, especially in the countries with low HIV prevalence as in ours, where the level of HIV knowledge may be low, people have the perception that there is no risk for them to become infected with HIV. VCT services help people understand their individual risk for HIV and to understand the meaning of their personal HIV status, and also to encourage safer behavior for decreasing the possible risk of HIV transmission. VCT provides services for voluntary and confidential counseling and testing for HIV in two mobile clinics (adequately fitted vans) in 11 cities throughout the country, in partnership with 14 citizens association and 10 health institutions in the republic for vulnerable and hard to reach populations (youth, men who have sex with men, injections drug users, sex workers, prisoners and other populations that have the need of these services.
VCT provides the client with voluntary counseling, which will help him make informed choice concerning his HIV status and help him undertake appropriate actions once he is aware of his own HIV status. The goal of the counseling is to promote early knowledge about HIV and provide information regarding transmission, prevention and the meaning of HIV test results. The discussion with the counselor will help the client analyze his own risk for HIV transmission and the possible ways for decreasing the risk and to get informed about HIV and HIV testing. The counseling process in VCT it is realized through pre-test counseling and post-test counseling. During the pre-test counseling the counselor gives the client opportunity to explore and to analyze his own situation and on the basis of that to make decision whether he will undergo HIV testing or not. Every client makes decision whether he will undertake tasting for HIV, on the basis of the HIV information and support offered by the counselor. Post-test counseling helps the client understand the meaning of the result of the HIV test, to explore the possibilities with whom he can disclose his HIV status and to identify the following steps that need to be taken in order to decrease the risk of further transmission, or getting infected with HIV. VCT is founded on the following basic aspects and principles:
- Voluntary – based on the given information, during the counseling, the client makes decision whether he will undertake test for HIV. HIV testing is voluntary and free of coercion.
- Confidentiality – Information regarding a client’s use of VCT services remains private and all the information shared during the counseling will not be divulged to others in a ways inconsistent with the client’s original consent.
- The testing is carried out with rapid test, which are performed with a finger-pick sample collected and proceeded by trained laboratory assistant. This rapid test provides the client with the results in 15 minutes.
- Anonymity and privacy – the test is performed without a client’s identification information, in settings that provide privacy during the discussion between the counselor and the client.
- Equality – VCT service provides all the clients with equal treatment, without regard to the HIV status, social status and level of education, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, religion, any kind of disability or any other characteristic.