‘If I had not taken it [HIVST kit] home, my husband would not have come to the facility to test for HIV’: HIV self-testing perceptions, delivery strategies, and post-test experiences among pregnant women and their male partners in Central Uganda

Joseph K. B. Matovu, Rose Kisa, Esther Buregyeya, Harriet Chemusto, Shaban Mugerwa, William Musoke, Caroline J. Vrana, Angela M. Malek, Jeffrey E. Korte & Rhoda K. Wanyenze

Background: HIV self-testing (HIVST) can improve HIV-testing rates in ‘hard-to-reach’ populations, including men. We explored HIVST perceptions, delivery strategies, and post-test experiences among pregnant women and their male partners in Central Uganda.

Methods: This was a qualitative study implemented as part of a pilot, cluster-randomized oral HIVST intervention trial among 1,514 pregnant women attending antenatal care services at three health facilities in Central Uganda. The qualitative component of the study was conducted between February and March 2017. We conducted 32 in-depth interviews to document women and men’s perceptions about HIVST, strategies used by women in delivering the kits to their male partners, male partners’ reactions to receiving kits from their female partners, and positive and negative social outcomes post-test. All interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed manually following a thematic framework approach.

Results: Women were initially anxious about their male partners’ reaction if they brought HIVST kits home, but the majority eventually managed to deliver the kits to them successfully. Women who had some level of apprehension used a variety of strategies to deliver the kits including placing the kits in locations that would arouse male partners’ inquisitiveness or waited for ‘opportune’ moments when their husbands were likely to be more receptive. A few (three) women lied about the purpose of the test kit (testing for syphilis and other illnesses) while one woman stealthily took a mucosal swab from the husband. Most men initially doubted the ability of oral HIVST kits to test for HIV, but this did not stop them from using them. Both men and women perceived HIVST as an opportunity to learn about each other’s HIV status. No serious adverse events were reported post-test.

Conclusion: Our findings lend further credence to previous findings regarding the feasibility of female-delivered HIVST to improve male partner HIV testing in sub-Saharan Africa. However, support for women in challenging relationships is required to minimize potential for deception and coercion.

September 26, 2018
Year of publication
Resource types
Journal and research articles
male partner testing, self-testing kits, pregnant women, Uganda, antenatal services, HIV self-testing (HIVST)

Similar Resources

Intimate partner violence (IPV) remains a serious problem with a wide range of health consequences including poor maternal and newborn health outcomes.

HIV acquisition during pregnancy and breastfeeding significantly contributes toward paediatric HIV infection; however, little is known about risk behaviours in HIV-uninfected pregnant and postpartum women.

This article is featured in the SHARE Research Digest. Click here to learn more.

Background: The recent scale-up of prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services has rapidly accelerated antiretroviral therapy (ART) uptake among pregnant and postpartum women in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Population Council leads Evidence to End FGM/C: Research to Help Girls and Women Thrive—a UKAID-funded research programme to help end female genital mutila

Initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) following diagnosis of HIV infection at birth is an emerging area of paediatric HIV care. We present outcomes of HIV-infected infants identified at birth at Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, prevention of mother-to-child transmission services are encountering increasing numbers of women already established on antiretroviral therapy (ART) when entering antenatal care.

BACKGROUND: In Malawi's PMTCT Option B+ program, HIV-infected pregnant women who are already receiving ART are continued on

BACKGROUND: In preventing the transfer of HIV to their children, the Ministry of Health in Mozambique recommends all couples

One of the factors linked to South Africa's relatively high maternal mortality ratio is late utilization of antenatal care (ANC). Early utilization is especially important in South Africa due to the high HIV prevalence amongst pregnant women. This study examined the impact of a package intervention…