HIV self-testing (HIVST) allows individuals to interpret and report their own test results, thus decentralizing testing. Yet, this decentralization can make it difficult to verify self-testing results, which is important for linkage to care and surveillance. The aim of this systematic review is to summarize methods for verifying HIVST use and results. We followed guidance from the Cochrane Handbook 5.1 on systematic reviews. We searched four journal databases (PubMed, Embase, Scopus, and Cochrane Library), one clinical trials database (ClinicalTrials.gov), two conference abstract databases (International AIDS Society and Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections) and one gray literature database (OpenGrey). We included studies that verified opening of kits or test results. Two researchers independently screened articles and extracted data regarding HIVST location, method of verification, who performed verification, proportion of results verified, and primary or secondary kit distribution. The search yielded 3853 unique citations, of which 40 contained information on HIVST verification and were included. Among these 40 studies, 13 were in high-income countries, 16 were in middle-income countries, and 11 were in low-income countries. Seventeen studies included key populations and two focused on youth. Three methods verified results: supervision by a health provider, returning used test kits, and electronic transmission of photographs. One method verified opening of kits using Bluetooth sensors. Although HIVST has increased worldwide, strategies to verify self-testing results remain limited. These findings suggest a need for additional innovative strategies for verifying HIVST use and results and linkage of self-testing results to surveillance and care systems.
Keywords: HIV; self-test; verification.