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  • Feasibility of supervised HIV self-testing in India

    Rights statement: Copyright: – 2016 Sarkar A et al; licensee International AIDS Society. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Feasibility of supervised self-testing using an oral fluid-based HIV rapid testing method: a cross-sectional, mixed method study among pregnant women in rural India

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  • Archana Sarkar
  • Gitau Mburu
  • Poonam Varma Shivkumar
  • Pankhuri Sharma
  • Fiona Campbell
  • Jagannath Behera
  • Ritu Dargan
  • Surendra Kumar Mishra
  • Sunil Mehra
Article number20993
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/09/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of the International AIDS Society
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Introduction: HIV self-testing can increase coverage of essential HIV services. This study aimed to establish the acceptability, concordance and feasibility of supervised HIV self-testing among pregnant women in rural India. Methods: A cross-sectional, mixed methods study was conducted among 202 consenting pregnant women in a rural Indian hospital between August 2014 and January 2015. Participants were provided with instructions on how to self-test using OraQuick® HIV antibody test, and subsequently asked to self-test under supervision of a community health worker. Test results were confirmed at a government-run integrated counselling and testing centre. A questionnaire was used to obtain information on patient demographics and the ease, acceptability and difficulties of self-testing. In-depth interviews were conducted with a sub-sample of 35 participants to understand their experiences. Results: In total, 202 participants performed the non-invasive, oral fluid-based, rapid test under supervision for HIV screening. Acceptance rate was 100%. Motivators for self-testing included: ease of testing (43.4%), quick results (27.3%) and non-invasive procedure (23.2%). Sensitivity and specificity were 100% for 201 tests, and one test was invalid. Concordance of test result interpretation between community health workers and participants was 98.5% with a Cohen’s Kappa (k) value of k=0.566 with p<0.001 for inter-rater agreement. Although 92.6% participants reported that the instructions for the test were easy to understand, 18.7% required the assistance of a supervisor to self-test. Major themes that emerged from the qualitative interviews indicated the importance of the following factors in influencing acceptability of self-testing: clarity and accessibility of test instructions; time-efficiency and convenience of testing; non-invasiveness of the test; and fear of incorrect results. Overall, 96.5% of the participants recommended that the OraQuick® test kits should become publicly available. Conclusions: Self-testing for HIV status using an oral fluid-based rapid test under the supervision of a community health worker was acceptable and feasible among pregnant women in rural India. Participants were supportive of making self-testing publicly available. Policy guidelines and implementation research are required to advance HIV self-testing for larger populations at scale.