"i think it is right": A qualitative exploration of the acceptability and desired future use of oral swab and finger-prick HIV self-tests by lay users in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Background: The uptake of HIV testing has increased in sub-Saharan Africa over the past three decades. However, the proportion of people aware of their HIV status remains lower than required to change the pandemic. HIV self-testing (HIVST) may meet this gap. Assessment of readiness for and the acceptability of HIVST by lay users in South Africa is limited. This paper presents results from a formative study designed to assess the perceived usability and acceptability of HIVST among lay users using several self-test prototypes. Fifty lay users were purposively selected from rural and peri-urban KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Acceptability of HIVST was assessed using a simple post-test quantitative assessment tool addressing confidence, ease-of-use, intended future use and willingness to pay. In-depth qualitative interviews explored what participants felt about the HIVST and why, their willingness to recommend and how much they would pay for a test. Results: The key finding is that there is high acceptability regardless of self-test prototype. Acceptability is framed by two domains: usability and perceived need. Perceived usability was explored through perceived ease of use, which, regardless of actual correct usage, was reported by many of the respondents. Acceptability is influenced by perceived need, expressed by many who felt that the need for the self-test to protect privacy and autonomy. Ease of access and widespread availability of the test, not at a significant cost, were also important factors. Many participants would recommend self-test use to others and also indicated that they would choose to conduct the test again if it was free while some also indicated being willing to buy a test. Conclusions: The positive response and readiness amongst lay users for an HIVST in this context prototype suggests that there would be a ready and willing market for HIVST. For scalability and sustainability usability, including access and availability that are here independent indications of acceptability, should be considered. So too should the desire for future use, as an additional factor pointing to acceptability. The results show high acceptability in all of these areas domains and a general interest in HIVST amongst lay users in a community in KwaZulu-Natal.




Knight, L., Makusha, T., Lim, J., Peck, R., Taegtmeyer, M., & Van Rooyen, H. (2017). “i think it is right”: A qualitative exploration of the acceptability and desired future use of oral swab and finger-prick HIV self-tests by lay users in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. BMC Research Notes, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-017-2810-7

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