Open Access Research article

Determinants for HIV testing and counselling in Nairobi urban informal settlements

Abdhalah K Ziraba12*, Nyovani J Madise3, James K Kimani1, Samuel Oti1, George Mgomella1, Mwau Matilu4 and Alex Ezeh1

Author Affiliations

1 African Population and Health Research Center, Kirawa Road, off Peponi Road P. O. Box 10787, 00100, Nairobi, Kenya

2 Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health, Department of Population Studies. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Room LG21, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

3 University of Southampton, School of Social Sciences, SO17 1BJ, Southampton, UK

4 Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI). P. O. Box 54840, 00200, Nairobi, Kenya

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:663  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-663

Published: 23 August 2011



Counselling and testing is important in HIV prevention and care. Majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa do not know their HIV status and are therefore unable to take steps to prevent infection or take up life prolonging anti-retroviral drugs in time if infected. This study aimed at exploring determinants of HIV testing and counselling in two Nairobi informal settlements.


Data are derived from a cross-sectional survey nested in an ongoing demographic surveillance system. A total of 3,162 individuals responded to the interview and out of these, 82% provided a blood sample which was tested using rapid test kits. The outcome of interest in this paper was HIV testing status in the past categorised as "never tested"; "client-initiated testing and counselling (CITC)" and provider-initiated testing and counselling (PITC). Multinomial logistic regression was used to identify determinants of HIV testing.


Approximately 31% of all respondents had ever been tested for HIV through CITC, 22% through PITC and 42% had never been tested but indicated willingness to test. Overall, 62% of females and 38% of males had ever been tested for HIV. Males were less likely to have had CITC (OR = 0.47; p value < 0.001) and also less likely to have had PITC (OR = 0.16; p value < 0.001) compared to females. Individuals aged 20-24 years were more likely to have had either CITC or PITC compared to the other age groups. The divorced/separated/widowed were more likely (OR = 1.65; p value < 0.01) to have had CITC than their married counterparts, while the never married were less likely to have had either CITC or PITC. HIV positive individuals (OR = 1.60; p value < 0.01) and those who refused testing in the survey (OR = 1.39; p value < 0.05) were more likely to have had CITC compared to their HIV negative counterparts.


Although the proportion of individuals ever tested in the informal settlements is similar to the national average, it remains low compared to that of Nairobi province especially among men. Key determinants of HIV testing and counselling include; gender, age, education level, HIV status and marital status. These factors need to be considered in efforts aimed at increasing participation in HIV testing.