HIV self-testing as part of a differentiated HIV testing approach: exploring urban and rural adult experiences from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa using a cross-over study design

Harichund, C., Karim, Q. A., Kunene, P., Simelane, S. and Moshabela, M.

BACKGROUND: Suboptimal HIV testing rates through available testing approaches such as HIV counselling and testing have directed research efforts toward recognizing the potential of HIV self-testing as an additional testing method. However, HIV self-testing is not readily available within HIV testing facilities and data on how HIV self-testing and HIV counselling and testing will co-exist within HIV testing facilities is limited. Therefore, this study sought to fill this knowledge gap.

METHODS: Forty consenting adults were exposed to HIV counselling and testing and HIV self-testing using a cross-over study design between February 2016 and February 2017 resulting in 80 (20,20) interviews. Participants were randomly exposed to HIV counselling and testing first, followed by self-testing, or HIV self-testing first, followed by counselling and testing. In-depth interviews were conducted at baseline, and after each testing exposure, using a semi-structured interview guide. Interviews were transcribed and translated prior to doing the framework analysis.

RESULTS: Support through counselling played a central role in the HIV testing process for some participants who desired support or were not confident to perform unsupervised HIV self-testing. The complementary relationship between HIV self-testing and HIV counselling and testing requires a combination of benefits such as availability of counselling, confidence, convenience and confidentiality (4 Cs) derived from HIV self-testing and HIV counselling and testing. Implementation of the 4 Cs will depend on the availability of unsupervised HIV self-testing and/or supervised self-testing with support from HIV counselling and testing.

CONCLUSIONS: As treatment and prevention efforts expand, the reasons for and frequency of testing is changing and there is a need to develop differentiated models for providing HIV testing services to meet client's needs. HIV self-testing is an important addition to enhance HIV testing efforts and should be offered in combination with HCT.

April 12, 2019
Year of publication
Resource types
Journal and research articles
differentiated models of HIV testing

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