Understanding Repeat Positive HIV Testing in South Africa Under Changing Treatment Guidelines.

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AIDS and Behavior

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Some people with HIV (PWH) test positive multiple times without initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART). We surveyed 496 ART-eligible PWH following routine HIV testing at three clinics in Soweto and Gugulethu, South Africa in 2014-2015. Among repeat positive testers (RPTs) in this cohort, we compared rates of treatment initiation by prior treatment eligibility and assessed psychosocial predictors of treatment initiation in logistic regression models. RPTs represented 33.8% of PWH in this cohort. Less than half of those who reported eligibility for ART on prior testing started treatment upon retesting, in contrast to two thirds of RPTs who were previously ineligible for treatment who started treatment once they learned of their eligibility. Those who reported coping through substance use were more likely to decline treatment versus those not using substances. PWH who test repeatedly represent a vulnerable population at risk for ART non-initiation who may benefit from interventions addressing individualized coping strategies.