Voluntary HIV Counselling and Testing

VCT - What is it?

VCT stands for voluntary counselling and testing. VCT is when a person chooses to undergo HIV/AIDS counselling so that they can make an informed decision about whether to be tested for HIV. The government is encouraging all of us to come forward to be tested for HIV. It believes that if many of us get tested, even though we may not be sick, this will help to lessen the amount of stigma associated with the HIV test.

What is counselling?

Counselling is a private conversation with a specially trained person aimed at helping you to help yourself. Counselling encourages you to explore possible solutions to your problems, and to consider the impact that certain decision may have on your life. HIV/AIDS counselling provided at VCT sites is free and confidential. This means that the Counsellor cannot tell anyone about your result without your permission. You must receive face-to-face counselling before you have the test. This is known as pre-test counseling, and is aimed at ensuring that you make a well-informed decision about whether to have the HIV test or not, and encourages you to explore the possible impact that having the test may have on your life.
Once the test has been done, you will receive post-test counselling. This is the counselling during which you will receive your result. We know that people who have good pre and post-test counselling are able to cope better with their results, and are more likely to look after their health, and protect others from infection. The counselling that you may have once you already know your result is known as on-going counselling. On-going counselling helps you to live positively with HIV and provides you with support and guidance with regard to any problem that you may face.
Having the HIV antibody test is you own personal decision. No one can force you to have it. Here is some more information about the different kinds of counselling:

Pre-Test Counselling

This is the kind of counselling you get before you decide whether you want to have the HIV antibody test. Some of the issues the counsellor will discuss with you are:

Why you decided to come for counselling
What counselling is, and the role of the counsellor
What your personal history is
Whether you have any health problems
What your risk of being HIV infected is
What you know about HIV/AIDS
Information about HIV/AIDS, including the test procedure and what people who are HIV infected can do to make sure that they stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.
What alternative there are for solving your problems
Which issues you want to tackle first
What impact you think a positive, indeterminate or negative result would have on your life and how you think you would react to receiving them.
The advantages and disadvantages for you to having the test
What king of support system you have including who you would be able to tell if you tested HIV antibody positive.
How you have coped with problems in the past.

Post Test Counselling

This is the kind of counselling you get after you have had the test. During this session, the counselor will:

Give you your test result.
Let you express your feeling about being HIV antibody positive, negative or indeterminate. Help you to revisit the issues you raised during the pre-test counselling session, including any plans you many have made.
Discuss any immediate problems and help you to decide on a plan of action
Answer any questions you may have and provide you with useful information
Discuss positive living
Give you positive information on what resources there are in your community to help you.