Impoverished men have lower rates of facility-based HIV counseling and testing and higher unknown HIV-positive status than women. Economic theory suggests that individuals will obtain an HIV test if anticipated benefits are greater than anticipated costs. Yet, few studies have investigated the range of financial preferences of HIV self-testing (HIVST) among poor men who decline testing or do not test regularly. Twenty-three interviews were conducted to qualitatively assess perceived costs saved and costs incurred from use of HIVST kits in infrequently- or never-tested Tanzanian men. All men were shown an HIVST kit and video. They were then asked about the costs associated with provider-led HIV testing, financial benefits and concerns of HIVST and willingness to pay for HIVST. Data were transcribed, coded and analyzed using inductive content analyses. We then grouped codes into perceived cost advantages and disadvantages and tabulated the range of prices men were willing to pay for a self-test kit. Perceived cost advantages of HIVST were avoidance of spending money to test in facilities, omission of follow-up fees, affordability relative to private clinics, and increased time for earning income and other activities. Men also discussed the imbalance of the financial benefit of accessing free, public HIV testing with the resources spent for transport, purchasing meals away from home and long wait lines. Perceived cost disadvantages of HIVST were prohibitive kit costs, required prior savings to purchase kits, expenditures relating to death and preferences for free provider-performed testing. Men were also concerned about the psychological costs of inaccurate results. HIVST willingness to pay varied among men. Men's decisions to self-test for HIV takes into account expected financial gains and losses. Demand generation for HIVST among men should consider use of low fees or free HIVST, while emphasizing potential savings from reduced travel, clinical costs, or time way from work. Efforts are also needed to address anticipated emotional costs of HIVST, such as anxiety from kit errors, purchasing "death" or testing alone, which for some men was a substantial barrier.
Keywords: Costs; Financial benefits; HIV self-testing; Men; Qualitative; Tanzania.