Characteristics of clients who access mobile compared to clinic HIV counselling and testing services : a matched study from Cape Town, South Africa
Please cite as follows: Meehan, S-A et al. 2014. Characteristics of clients who access mobile compared to clinic HIV counselling and testing services: a matched study from Cape Town, South Africa. BMC Health Services Research, 14(1):658, doi:10.1186/s12913-014-0658-2.
The original publication is available at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6963/14/658
Background: Studies within sub-Saharan African countries have shown that mobile services increase uptake of HIV counselling and testing (HCT) services when compared to clinics and are able to access different populations, but these have included provider-initiated HCT in clinics. This study aimed to compare the characteristics of clients who self-initiated HCT at either a mobile or a clinic service in terms of demographic and socio-economic variables, also comparing reasons for accessing a particular health service provider. Methods: This study took place in eight areas around Cape Town. A matched design was used with one mobile HCT service matched with one or more clinics (offering routine HCT services) within each of the eight areas. Adult clients who self-referred for an HIV test within a specified time period at either a mobile or clinic service were invited to participate in the study. Data were collected between February and April 2011 using a questionnaire. Summary statistics were calculated for each service type within a matched pair and differences of outcomes from pairs were used to calculate effect sizes and 95% confidence intervals. Results: 1063 participants enrolled in the study with 511 from mobile and 552 from clinic HCT services. The proportion of males accessing mobile HCT significantly exceeded that of clinic HCT (p < 0.001). The mean age of participants attending mobile HCT was higher than clinic participants (p = 0.023). No significant difference was found for socio-economic variables between participants, with the exception of access to own piped water (p = 0.029). Participants who accessed mobile HCT were significantly more likely to report that they were just passing, deemed an “opportunistic” visit (p = 0.014). Participants who accessed clinics were significantly more likely to report the service being close to home or work (p = 0.035). Conclusions: An HCT strategy incorporating a mobile HCT service, has a definite role to play in reaching those population groups who do not typically access HCT services at a clinic, especially males and those who take advantage of the opportunity to test. Mobile HCT services can complement clinic services.