Open Access Research article

Client-provider interactions in provider-initiated and voluntary HIV counseling and testing services in Uganda

Rhoda K Wanyenze1*, David Kyaddondo2, John Kinsman3, Fredrick Makumbi1, Robert Colebunders4 and Anita Hardon5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health, Makerere University School of Public Health, P.O. Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

2 Makerere University Department of Social Work/Child Health Development Centre, Kampala, Uganda

3 Umeå Centre for Global Health Research, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

4 Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium

5 University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:423  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-423

Published: 19 October 2013



Provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling (PITC) is based on information-giving while voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) includes individualised client-centered counseling. It is not known if the provider-client experiences, perceptions and client satisfaction with the information provided differs in the two approaches.


In 2008, we conducted structured interviews with 627 individuals in Uganda; 301 tested through PITC and 326 through voluntary counselling and testing (VCT). We compared client experiences and perceptions based on the essential elements of consent, confidentiality, counseling, and referral for follow-up care. We conducted multivariate analysis for predictors of reporting information or counselling as sufficient.


In VCT, 96.6% (282) said they were asked for consent compared to 91.3% (198) in PITC (P = 0.01). About the information provided, 92.0% (286) in VCT found it sufficient compared to 78.7% (221) in PITC (P = <0.01). In VCT 79.9% (246) thought their results were kept confidential compared to 71.7% (200) in PITC (P = 0.02). Eighty percent (64) of HIV infected VCT clients said they were referred for follow-up care versus 87.3% (48) in PITC (p = 0.2). Predictors of perceived adequacy of information in PITC included an opportunity to ask questions (adj.RR 1.76, CI 1.41, 2.18) and expecting the test results received (adj.RR 1.18, CI 1.06, 1.33). For VCT significant factors included being given an opportunity to ask questions (adj.RR 1.62, CI 1.00, 2.60) and 3+ prior times tested, (adj.RR 1.05, CI 1.00, 1.09).


This study demonstrates good practices in the essential elements of HIV testing for both VCT and PITC. However, further quality enhancement is required in both testing approaches in relation to referral to HIV care post-test, client confidence in relation to confidentiality, and providing an opportunity to ask questions to address client-specific information needs.