Confidential HIV counselling and testing

Confidential HIV counselling and testing

HIV/Aids centre

Confidential HIV counselling and testing

Confidential HIV counselling and testing (HCT) is the first step in getting to grips with HIV, whether you test positive or negative. It affords entry into care, treatment and support programmes that can help you live with and manage HIV.

Counselling during voluntary HCT (HIV counselling and testing) is a private conversation that you have with a person specially trained in HIV and Aids counselling, with the aim of helping you to help yourself.

Counselling encourages you to explore possible solutions to your problems, and to consider the impact that certain decisions may have on your life and on the lives of others.

HCT services always preserve your need for confidentiality, and the HIV and Aids counselling provided at the HCT sites is free as well as confidential. In other words, the counsellor cannot tell anyone about your result without your permission. You therefore need have no fear that you may suffer any stigma and discrimination from your families, community, colleagues or employers.

Having the HIV test is your own personal decision and confidential testing means that only you and the health care provider will know your results.

You do not have to give your name when you are tested at a public health office. You may be given a unique number or code that you must present to obtain your results. You can be tested anonymously for HIV as many times as you want.

You will also receive counselling after the test has been done, so that you can get the necessary treatment or receive additional information on your lifestyle choices.

If you are found to be infected with HIV, it will be reported to the Department of Health so that the government can better track the extent of the disease in the population as a whole, but your name and personal particulars will not appear anywhere.

In summary, the core principles of HTC are:

  • The provision of quality information
  • Apart from information in group sessions, everything said and done is confidential
  • Counselling will cover your needs and risks, and possible risks for others in your life
  • The test will be done according to national quality assurance guidelines for testing to ensure that the test results are accurate and correct
  • You will be linked to care that includes prevention, care and treatment, and other clinical services when necessary.

South Africa Department of Health. 2015. National HIV counselling and testing. Policy guidelines. Retrieved from

(Revised by M van Deventer)