Anonymous versus confidential HIV testing: Client and provider decision making under uncertainty

Oscar Grusky, Kathleen Johnston Roberts, Aimee Noelle Swanson, Elizabeth Joniak, Jennifer Leich, Gwen McEvoy, Keith Murphy, Kristen Schilt, Valerie Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Six intensive observational studies of HIV testing sites were undertaken in order to improve understanding of confidential and anonymous testing. Three sites offered only confidential testing (a large health maintenance organization's Urgent Care clinic, the same organization's HIV clinic, and a private medical practitioner's office), one offered only anonymous testing (a free clinic), and two offered a choice of confidential or anonymous testing (a thrift shop alternate testing site and a mobile testing unit). Multiple data collection strategies were used including direct field observation, semistructured interviews with clients and providers, and document and policy analysis. Using an organizational/interactional uncertainty framework, this study found that the choice between anonymous and confidential testing is a central aspect of the HIV testing process, that some clients are unclear about the differences between anonymous and confidential testing, that alternate testing sites' providers play a significant role in encouraging confidential rather than anonymous testing in order to further their organization's resource needs and public health goals, and that testing counselors' may consider that some clients prefer anonymous testing because of fear of stigma, discrimination, or loss of privacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS Patient Care and STDs
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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