Feasibility of HIV self-testing: experiences of people seeking HIV testing in rural and urban KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
HIV status awareness is a rate limiting step in HIV treatment and prevention initiatives aimed at addressing the global HIV epidemic. Uptake of HIV testing remains suboptimal despite global campaigns aimed at improving uptake. HIV self-testing (HIVST) displays the potential to increase uptake of HIV testing in public health care facilities, which are the main access points for HIV testing, but evidence to support this notion is limited. Therefore, this study determined the factors that influence the feasibility of introducing HIVST into public facilities in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, through a mixed method crossover study design, implemented among 40 consenting adults who were either regular HIV testers or HIV testing naïve. Qualitative assessments were conducted using a topic guide centred on the feasibility of HIVST. Usability of HIVST was quantitatively assessed by means of a HIVST usability assessment checklist. Technical, environmental and economic factors were found to influence HIVST feasibility. The majority of participants were able to conduct unsupervised HIVST but training may be required for those unable to follow instructions. Accessibility of HIVST was associated with affordability and convenience. Environmental factors such as storage and location to perform the test and a disposal kit require further consideration in limited resource settings due to lack of privacy and confidentiality. While we demonstrated that HIVST is feasible, and identified factors that may influence its feasibility, these factors require further consideration in primary health care facilities in resource limited settings prior to scale-up.
Keywords: HIVST, environmental, technical, AIDS, testing