Implementation outcomes of HIV self-testing in low- And middle-income countries: A scoping review

Adovich S. Rivera*, Ralph Hernandez, Regiel Mag-Usara, Karen Nicole Sy, Allan R. Ulitin, Linda C. O'Dwyer, Megan C. McHugh, Neil Jordan, Lisa R. Hirschhorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Introduction HIV self-testing (HIV-ST) is an effective means of improving HIV testing rates. Low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) are taking steps to include HIV-ST into their national HIV/ AIDS programs but very few reviews have focused on implementation in LMIC. We performed a scoping review to describe and synthesize existing literature on implementation outcomes of HIV-ST in LMIC. Methods We conducted a systematic search of Medline, Embase, Global Health, Web of Science, and Scopus, supplemented by searches in and other grey literature databases (done 23 September 2020) and included articles if they reported at least one of the following eight implementation outcomes: acceptability, appropriateness, adoption, feasibility, fidelity, cost, penetration, or sustainability. Both quantitative and qualitative results were extracted and synthesized in a narrative manner. Results and discussion Most (75%) of the 206 included articles focused on implementation in Africa. HIV-ST was found to be acceptable and appropriate, perceived to be convenient and better at maintaining confidentiality than standard testing. The lack of counselling and linkage to care, however, was concerning to stakeholders. Peer and online distribution were found to be effective in improving adoption. The high occurrence of user errors was a common feasibility issue reported by studies, although, diagnostic accuracy remained high. HIV-ST was associated with higher program costs but can still be cost-effective if kit prices remain low and HIV detection improves. Implementation fidelity was not always reported and there were very few studies on, penetration, and sustainability. Conclusions Evidence supports the acceptability, appropriateness, and feasibility of HIV-ST in the LMIC context. Costs and user error rates are threats to successful implementation. Future research should address equity through measuring penetration and potential barriers to sustainability including distribution, cost, scale-up, and safety.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0250434
JournalPloS one
Issue number5 May
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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