Effect of Text Message, Phone Call, and In-Person Appointment Reminders on Uptake of Repeat HIV Testing among Outpatients Screened for Acute HIV Infection in Kenya: A Randomized Controlled Trial

PLoS One. 2016 Apr 14;11(4):e0153612. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153612. eCollection 2016.


Background: Following HIV-1 acquisition, many individuals develop an acute retroviral syndrome and a majority seek care. Available antibody testing cannot detect an acute HIV infection, but repeat testing after 2-4 weeks may detect seroconversion. We assessed the effect of appointment reminders on attendance for repeat HIV testing.

Methods: We enrolled, in a randomized controlled trial, 18-29 year old patients evaluated for acute HIV infection at five sites in Coastal Kenya (ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01876199). Participants were allocated 1:1 to either standard appointment (a dated appointment card) or enhanced appointment (a dated appointment card plus SMS and phone call reminders, or in-person reminders for participants without a phone). The primary outcome was visit attendance, i.e., the proportion of participants attending the repeat test visit. Factors associated with attendance were examined by bivariable and multivariable logistic regression.

Principal findings: Between April and July 2013, 410 participants were randomized. Attendance was 41% (85/207) for the standard group and 59% (117/199) for the enhanced group, for a relative risk of 1.4 [95% Confidence Interval, CI, 1.2-1.7].Higher attendance was independently associated with older age, study site, and report of transactional sex in past month. Lower attendance was associated with reporting multiple partners in the past two months.

Conclusions: Appointment reminders through SMS, phone calls and in-person reminders increased the uptake of repeat HIV test by forty percent. This low-cost intervention could facilitate detection of acute HIV infections and uptake of recommended repeat testing.

Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01876199.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Kenya
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Outpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Reminder Systems / statistics & numerical data*
  • Telephone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Text Messaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01876199