HIV is still a global public health problem. More than 75 % of HIV-infected people are in Africa, and most of them are unaware of their HIV status, which is a barrier to accessing antiretroviral treatment. Our review aims, firstly, to determine whether HIV self-testing is an effective method to increase the uptake of testing, the yield of new HIV-positive diagnoses, and the linkage to antiretroviral treatment. Secondly, we aim to review the factors that facilitate or impede the uptake of HIV self-testing.
Participants will be adults living in Africa. For the first aim, the intervention will be HIV self-testing either alone or in addition to HIV testing standard of care. The comparison will be HIV testing standard of care. The primary outcomes will be (i) uptake of HIV testing and (ii) yield of new HIV-positive diagnoses. The secondary outcomes will be (a) linkage to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and (b) incidence of social harms. For the second aim, we will review barriers and facilitators to the uptake of self-testing. We will search PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Scopus, Web of Science, WHOLIS, Africa Wide, and CINAHL for eligible studies from 1998, with no language limits. We will check reference lists of included studies for other eligible reports. Eligible studies will include experimental and observational studies. Two authors will independently screen the search output, select studies, and extract data, resolving discrepancies by consensus and discussion. Two authors will use Cochrane risk of bias tools for experimental studies, the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale for observational studies, and the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme (CASP) quality assessment tool for qualitative studies.
Innovative and cost-effective community-based HIV testing strategies, such as self-testing, will contribute to universal coverage of HIV testing in Africa. The findings from this systematic review will guide development of self-testing policy in African countries.