Effect of time between HIV testing and availability of test results on posttest counseling return rates

Helene Soffer Cross, University of Pennsylvania


This study investigated whether decreasing the time between HIV testing and the availability of the results (lag time), will increase the percentage of clients returning to receive results. The study was conducted at 3 sites in New Jersey: a site whose sole purpose is HIV testing, a sexually transmitted disease clinic, and a drug treatment center. Participants included 742 adult clients tested at the study sites between May and October of 1996. Participants were randomly assigned to receive their results 3 days after initial visit or 2 weeks after the visit. HIV counselors collected demographic and risk information using an existing data collection form. Clients returning for results within 3 months of the initial visit were counted as having returned for results. This study demonstrated that decreasing the time between HIV testing and making the test result available to those who were tested, did not increase the percentage of clients who returned to the center for their results. This held for all site types, racial or ethnic groups, for both sexes, and all age groups. Site type, race or ethnicity, and age, have been found significant in predicting return for results in previous studies (Anderson, Hardy, Cahill, and Aral, 1992; Valdiserri, Moore, Gerber, Campbell, Dillon, and West, 1993). They were also found to be stable predictors in this study. Further, post hoc analysis demonstrated that even clients whose results were available in less than 6 days had a mean return time of over 14 days, although they did return sooner than their control counterparts. It was concluded that client motivation and readiness to receive results were more important than lag time in predicting return. These findings provide support for the health beliefs model and the transtheoretical model. Programmatic and policy changes that might increase posttest counseling return rates such as the use of incentives, telephone counseling and rapid tests were proposed.

Subject Area

Behaviorial sciences|Public health|Health education

Recommended Citation

Cross, Helene Soffer, "Effect of time between HIV testing and availability of test results on posttest counseling return rates" (1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9937715.