'I Know that I Do Have HIV but Nobody Saw Me': Oral HIV Self-Testing in an Informal Settlement in South Africa

PLoS One. 2016 Apr 4;11(4):e0152653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152653. eCollection 2016.


Reaching universal HIV-status awareness is crucial to ensure all HIV-infected patients access antiretroviral treatment (ART) and achieve virological suppression. Opportunities for HIV testing could be enhanced by offering self-testing in populations that fear stigma and discrimination when accessing conventional HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) in health care facilities. This qualitative research aims to examine the feasibility and acceptability of unsupervised oral self-testing for home use in an informal settlement of South Africa. Eleven in-depth interviews, two couple interviews, and two focus group discussions were conducted with seven healthcare workers and thirteen community members. Thematic analysis was done concurrently with data collection. Acceptability to offer home self-testing was demonstrated in this research. Home self-testing might help this population overcome barriers to accepting HCT; this was particularly expressed in the male and youth groups. Nevertheless, pilot interventions must provide evidence of potential harm related to home self-testing, intensify efforts to offer quality counselling, and ensure linkage to HIV/ART-care following a positive self-test result.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Awareness*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self-Examination*
  • South Africa

Grants and funding

This study has not received any grant. This study has been entirely funded as operational research by Médecins Sans Frontiéres project in Khayelitsha, South Africa. All authors are workers in MSF Khayelitsha project, and, as such, had played a role in study design, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The first author, GMP, is not member of Khayelitsha project, and, as social scientist, has conducted data collection and analysis. Thus, the funders didn't play a role in these stages.