Preventing HIV Infection
Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) for HIV Prevention
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What Can UNFPA Do?
Advocating for and supporting the provision of
counseling and testing services for HIV is a relatively
new area for UNFPA.
However, within the context of
our response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic through
preventing HIV infections – the Fund is well placed to
integrate quality VCT services in the programmes and
activities it supports.
UNFPA’s overall aim should be to
ensure those at highest risk of HIV infection have access
to affordable and acceptable VCT services, and that
VCT becomes an integral component of programmes
addressing HIV prevention among young people,
pregnant women and their sexual partners.
In addition, the
following aspects may be considered:
- Support the development of innovative ways to
provide VCT services to vulnerable sub-groups
of populations ( pregnant women, potential users
of condoms, injecting drug users, victims of rape
and sexual abuse, street youth, etc.) – when
focusing on such sub-groups it is important not
to increase marginalisation, stigma and
discrimination. Quality counselling should be
driving force in supporting VCT interventions.
- Critically analyse models of good practice for VCT
services and support the scaling up, expansion
and/or replication of such successful models.
Actions specific to UNFPA’s core areas:
1. VCT for Young People
- Work with appropriate sector ministries, including
health, education, youth and sports, and youth and
youth-serving organizations to include promotion
of VCT benefits for young people within existing
life and livelihood skills training and other
educational curricula and to enhance and or revise
protocols and guidelines to incorporate VCT
services within sexual and reproductive health
services for young people. VCT should be
promoted as part of an essential package of
information and services that should be available
for sexually active young people in- and out-ofschool.
Combining VCT with a range of other
youth-focused activities has many advantages in
attracting youth rather than freestanding services.
- Ensure that programmes for young people which
incorporate VCT also provide or refer/link to
programmes that can provide psychosocial and
emotional support through ongoing HIV/AIDS
information and education, HIV-related counseling
and post test HIV/AIDS clubs for young people.
2. VCT and Condom Programming
VCT sites are a valuable venue for condom
promotion and distribution. Such sites should
routinely have sufficient supplies of male and
female condoms to meet ongoing client needs.
pre- and post-test counseling sessions provide the
opportunity for ongoing support for effective
condom use. VCT services need to explore the
merits of condom social marketing and free
distribution according to their client groups to
promote demand for VCT services.
their effectiveness for condom programming, they
should advertise themselves as condom
distribution points irrespective of HIV testing.
3. VCT for Pregnant Women
- Both to prevent infection in pregnant women and to
reduce transmission to children, VCT needs to be
integrated early into antenatal care services. UNFPA’s
core focus should be helping pregnant women to
stay HIV negative or to prevent further infection
by promoting the benefits of knowing ones status
and of safer sex practices including the use of
condoms throughout pregnancy and lactation.
Appropriate mechanisms to enable HIV positive
women to access antiretroviral treatment to protect
their infants should be established in collaboration
with other partners.
- Promote couple counseling for VCT, and male
involvement in all aspects of SRH so that men take
increasing responsibility for sexual and reproductive
health and understand the need for dual protection
or, during pregnancy, for STI/HIV infection
Other General Actions for UNFPA’s Support:
- Policy and Programmatic Development:- Using its
distinct relationship with governments and sector
ministries, UNFPA has an urgent and vital role to
play in facilitating, through continued advocacy and
technical assistance, the development and/or
realignment of policies, and national strategic plans
and programmatic guidelines including testing
protocols, that provide a supportive environment
for the incorporation and delivery of quality VCT
services in RH settings. These include policies and
programmatic issues related to amongst others
discrimination and stigma, disclosure and openness
about status, age of informed consent and
- Capacity Building:- Support for capacity building
of service providers working in antenatal and
maternity care, with youth as part of youth friendly
health services, in family planning and STI
management settings, to deliver quality VCT
through clarifying providers values around HIV/
AIDS and testing for HIV, and improving their
behavioural change information, communication
and counseling skills.
- BCC/IEC:- Continue to contribute to the
development and dissemination of appropriate
behaviour change information and communication
messages and materials around VCT and HIV/
- Provision of Rapid HIV Test Kits:- As part of
commodity management, ensure support to
government to effectively coordinate the
procurement, logistics and distribution of HIV
rapid test kits and other HIV preventive
commodities including male and female condoms
through strengthening commodity management
and logistic management systems at all functional
- Operations Research:- Contribute in collaboration
with others, to operational research on VCT good
practice regarding, for instance, quality of service,
feasibility, accessibility, acceptability, sustainability,
cost effectiveness, cost benefit, integration into
different settings and scaling up.
- Partnerships:- Establish effective partnerships with
other UN cosponsors, NGOs, particularly women
and youth serving NGOs, governments,
community organizations, the private sector and
individuals living positively with AIDS, so as to
ensure a continuum of care. In particular,
collaborate with UNICEF and WHO regarding
VCT provision for young people and pregnant
women and their partners.
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