HIV self-testing acceptable and accessible among female sex workers Zambian transit towns

Mbaita Shawa, during the Research Meeting at CIDRZ

HIV testing is essential for realizing the first step of UNAIDS 90:90:90 target by 2020 and its introduction was as an alternative to traditional testing to reach the UN target.

In Zambia, a study conducted by CIDRZ showed that HIV Self Testing was accepted in the general population but, little is known about its acceptability among female sex workers.
Mbaita Shawa, a CIDRZ HealthCorp Fellow conducted a review on article on “HIV self-testing among female sex workers in Zambia : a cluster randomized controlled trial” a study conducted to evaluate the effect of two different health system mechanisms for HIV self-test delivery compared to referral to standard HIV testing among transit town based female sex workers of Chirundu, Kapiri Mposhi and Livingstone.

Results from the study revealed that of the 965 participants, 885 (91.7%) returned to follow up at 1 month and 898 (93.1%) returned at 4 months, 92.3% and 89.5% reported use of HIV self -test in one (1) month and four (4) months respectively, and linkage to HIV services.

In her review, Mbaita concluded that in the short term, direct delivery self- testing may be more effective as it removed confidentiality and logistical barriers to accessing HIV services and that the modality was acceptable to female sex workers and can lead to uptake of HIV self- testing just as high as direct delivery.
“This study indicates that HIV testing interventions, delivered by peer educators may have a large effect on HIV testing”

She recommends that future long term studies consider linkage to care and Anti Retroviral Therapy interventions following HIV self -testing, the role of peer educators in facilitating HIV care cascade progression

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