Abstract Objectives To compare nationally representative trends in self‐reported uptake of HIV testing and receipt of results in selected countries prior to treatment scale‐up. Methods Demographic
and Health Survey (DHS) data from 13 countries in sub‐Saharan Africa were used to describe the pattern of uptake of testing for HIV among sexually active participants. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to analyse the associations between socio‐demographic
and behavioural characteristics and the uptake of testing. Results Knowledge of serostatus ranged from 2.2% among women in Guinea (2005) to 27.4% among women in Rwanda (2005). Despite varied levels of testing, univariate analysis showed the profile of testers to be remarkably
similar across countries, with respect to socio‐demographic characteristics such as area of residence and socio‐economic status. HIV‐positive participants were more likely to have tested and received their results than HIV‐negative participants, with the exception
of women in Senegal and men in Guinea. Adjusted analyses indicate that a secondary or higher level of education was a key determinant of testing, and awareness that treatment exists was independently positively associated with testing, once other characteristics were taken into account. Conclusion
This work provides a baseline for monitoring trends in testing and exploring changes in the profile of those who get tested after the introduction and scale‐up of treatment.