Reaching underserved South Africans with integrated chronic disease screening and mobile HIV counselling and testing: A retrospective, longitudinal study conducted in Cape Town

Smith, P. J., Davey, D. J., Green, H., Cornell, M., & Bekker, L. G.


Community-based, mobile HIV counselling and testing (HCT) and screening for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) may improve early diagnosis and referral for care in underserved populations. We evaluated HCT/NCD data and described population characteristics of those visiting a mobile clinic in high HIV disease burden settings in Cape Town, South Africa, between 2008 and 2016.


Trained counsellors registered patients ≥12 years old at a mobile clinic, which offered HCT and blood pressure, diabetes (glucose testing) and obesity (body mass index) screening. A nurse referred patients who required HIV treatment or NCD care. Using multivariable logistic regression, we estimated correlates of new HIV diagnoses adjusting for gender, age and year.


Overall, 43,938 individuals (50% male; 29% <25 years; median age = 31 years) tested for HIV at the mobile clinic, where 27% of patients (66% of males, 34% of females) reported being debut HIV testers. Males not previously tested for HIV had higher rates of HIV positivity (11%) than females (7%). Over half (55%, n = 1,343) of those previously diagnosed HIV-positive had not initiated ART. More than one-quarter (26%) of patients screened positive for hypertension (males 28%, females 24%, p<0.001). Females were more likely overweight (25% vs 20%) or obese (43% vs 9%) and presented with more diabetes symptoms than males (8% vs 4%). Females (3%) reported more symptoms of STIs than males (1%). Reporting symptoms of sexually transmitted infections (aOR = 3.45, 95% CI = 2.84, 4.20), diabetes symptoms (aOR = 1.61, 95% 1.35, 1.92), and TB symptoms (aOR = 4.40, 95% CI = 3.85, 5.01) were associated with higher odds of a new HIV diagnosis after adjusting for covariates.


Findings demonstrate that mobile clinics providing integrated HCT and NCD screening may offer the opportunity of early diagnosis and referral for care for those who delay screening, including men living with HIV not previously tested.

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South Africa