Testing Together: Couples HIV Testing and Counseling (CHTC)

Couples HIV Testing
and Counseling, also known as CHTC or
“Testing Together,” is an approach for HIV testing
whereby two or more persons who are in or are planning to
be in a sexual relationship learn their HIV status together. One of the key features
of this approach is that couples agree
to participate in the entire service together,
including counseling and receiving
their test results. This facilitates disclosure
of HIV test results between partners,
and it provides an opportunity for couples to
develop HIV prevention, care, and treatment plans that are
specific to their situation, their relationship,
and their HIV status. CHTC can be more complex
than individual testing because providers have to manage
communication between each of the partners as individuals
and between the couple as a unit. But it also provides
great opportunities for facilitating dialogue
between the couple that might not otherwise happen. And it builds on the skills
that individual HIV testing providers already have. Because it is more complex, CDC
recommends some prerequisites for HIV testing providers
who wish to conduct CHTC. In particular, we recommend
that non-clinical HIV testing providers have already
been trained and certified in individual testing
and counseling, and that they have provided
individual HIV testing services for at least six months
or to at least 50 clients. That ensures that they
have some foundation to build on before
they begin providing testing services to couples. We’re going to hear from two of
the leading researchers on CHTC in the United States
who will tell you more about the
evidence to support the expansion of this approach. CDC recognizes the
importance of CHTC as a new, innovative
tool for HIV prevention that supports the goals of
the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and CDC’s High-Impact
Prevention approach. By offering couples the
opportunity to test together, we have the potential to
identify persons living with HIV who did not
previously know their status, to reduce new
infections, particularly among HIV-discordant
couples, to improve linkage to care and treatment, and
to reduce health inequities by providing CHTC to high-risk,
marginalized populations. CHTC is a high
priority HIV prevention strategy for the United States. And CDC is committed
to supporting training, implementation, and technical
assistance for this approach. Much of this work has already
begun in high-prevalence areas, and we will continue
to expand this effort throughout the country. Although this is a paradigm
shift from the way HIV testing has been provided
in the past, CDC is committed to working
with our partners across the country to take
this approach to scale. And we look forward to
joining you in this effort.

Michael Martin

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