Heterogeneity of community-based voluntary, counselling and testing services for HIV in Europe: the HIV-COBATEST survey

Juliana Reyes-Urueña, Michele Breveglieri, Martina Furegato, Laura Fernàndez-López, Cristina Agusti, Jordi Casabona

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    © 2015, © The Author(s) 2015. This study reports the first EU-wide survey of community-based voluntary counselling and testing services (CBVCTs), with the following aims: to assess the current availability of CBVCTs and how the concept of CBVCT is understood; to describe CBVCT modalities and strategies; and to measure the use of rapid tests within CBVCTs. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in two different key informant groups: HIV/AIDS National Focal Points (NFPs) and CBVCTs from the EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries. A definition of CBVCTs was reached. Descriptive and correspondence analyses were performed. The COBATEST survey was answered by NFPs from 25 of the 32 EU/EFTA countries (response rate of 78.1%), and by 55 CBVCTs in 22 different countries. CBVCTs were functioning in nearly all the responding countries, but only 56% explicitly included them in their national strategic plans. In those that had CBVCTs, the NFPs often lacked reliable information on CBVCTs. In general, CBVCTs in Europe are focused mainly on men who have sex with men, are primarily peer-driven and highly communitarised, whereas CBVCTs targeting other at-risk populations are more medicalised. In addition, the oral test is under-used and in general test performance is highly medicalised. Results show that there is a wide heterogeneity of CBVCTs in Europe, which is varied and highly medicalised. The data provided in this study in conjunction with other deliverables produced by the COBATEST project should contribute to the development of standardised indicators to enable comparisons over time and eventually improve the effectiveness of CBVCTs across Europe.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-38
    JournalInternational Journal of STD and AIDS
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


    • community health services
    • counselling
    • diagnosis
    • early diagnosis
    • Europe
    • HIV infections
    • prevention and control
    • therapy


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