Photo L to R: Annette Brown, Deputy Director International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), Jenala Chipungu, Roma Chilengi, and Arianna Zanolini of CIDRZ
On 12th August CIDRZ researchers Arianna Zanolini, Jenala Chipungu and Roma Chilengi disseminated results of the Phase 1 formative research study assessing the feasibility and acceptability of oral HIV self-testing in Zambia to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Community Development Mother and Child Health and other key stakeholders.
Given the low uptake of HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) services, Zambia is considering adopting the use of HIV self-testing (HIVST) to increase HIV status awareness, especially among those difficult to reach through traditional testing models. Formative research work was required before developing policies and considering rolling out the technology.
The goal of this mixed methods survey and qualitative study was to investigate whether self-testing would be an acceptable and effective innovation for HCT in Zambia and to provide guidance on optimal ways to implement self-testing.
The study funded by 3ie – International Initiative for Impact Evaluation was conducted in
17 areas within Lusaka Province and a total of 1,617 participants, aged between 16 and 49 years of age took part in either a household survey, focus group discussion or
key informant interview.
The study found that HIV self-testing was feasible and acceptable and has the potential to reach non-testers, but that further formative research needs to be done to better understand important issues such as related counselling needs; distribution location and cost; linkages to care; effective method to inform illiterate or physically-challenged populations how to perform the test and interpret results; and whether the test roll-out should only be targeted on key populations. Further research work on the topic is planned.