• Investigating the addition of oral HIV self-tests among populations with high testing coverage - Do they add value? Lessons from a study in Khayelitsha, South Africa.

      Moore, HA; Metcalf, CA; Cassidy, T; Hacking, D; Shroufi, A; Steele, SJ; Duran, LT; Ellman, T (Public Library of Science, 2019-05-02)
      INTRODUCTION: HIV self-testing (HIVST) offers a useful addition to HIV testing services and enables individuals to test privately. Despite recommendations to the contrary, repeat HIV testing is frequent among people already on anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and there are concerns that oral self-testing might lead to false negative results. A study was conducted in Khayelitsha, South Africa, to assess feasibility and uptake of HIVST and linkage-to-care following HIVST. METHODS: Participants were recruited at two health facilities from 1 March 2016 to 31 March 2017. People under 18 years, or with self-reported previously-diagnosed HIV infection, were excluded. Participants received an OraQuick Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody kit, and reported their HIVST results by pre-paid text message (SMS) or by returning to the facility. Those not reporting within 7 days were contacted by phone. Electronic and paper-based clinical and laboratory records were retrospectively examined for all participants to identify known HIV outcomes, after matching for name, date of birth, and sex. These findings were compared with self-reported HIVST results where available. RESULTS: Of 639 participants, 401 (62.8%) self-reported a negative HIVST result, 27 (4.2%) a positive result, and 211 (33.0%) did not report. The record search identified that of the 401 participants self-reporting a negative HIVST result, 19 (4.7%) were already known to be HIV positive; of the 27 self-reporting positive, 12 (44%) were known HIV positive. Overall, records showed 57/639 (8.9%) were HIV positive of whom 39/57 (68.4%) had previously-diagnosed infection and 18/57 (31.6%) newly-diagnosed infection. Of the 428 participants who self-reported a result, 366 (85.5%) reported by SMS. CONCLUSIONS: HIVST can improve HIV testing uptake and linkage to care. SMS is acceptable for reporting HIVST results but negative self-reports by participants may be unreliable. Use of HIVST by individuals on ART is frequent despite recommendations to the contrary and its implications need further consideration.
    • Peer Mentorship via Mobile Phones for Newly Diagnosed HIV-Positive Youths in Clinic Care in Khayelitsha, South Africa: Mixed Methods Study

      Hacking, D; Cassidy, T; Mgengwana-Mbakaza, Z; Boulle, A; Mathys, R; Runeyi, P; Duran, L (JMIR Publications Inc., 2019-12-10)
      Background: Youths in South Africa are poor utilizers of HIV health services. Medecins Sans Frontieres has been piloting youth-adapted services at a youth clinic in Khayelitsha, including a peer virtual mentorship program over mobile phones, piloted from March 2015 to May 2016. Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of the peer mentorship program on youth engagement with HIV services and explore the acceptability of the program to both mentors and mentees. Methods: Antiretroviral initiation, retention in care (RIC), and viral load suppression were compared between youths engaged in the virtual mentorship program and two matched controls. In-depth interviews were also conducted for 5 mentors and 5 mentees to explore acceptability and impact of the program. Results: A total of 40 youths were recruited into the virtual mentorship program over the study period. Of these, data were obtained for 35 and 2 matched controls were randomly sampled for each. There was no difference in baseline demographics (eg, age, gender, and CD4 count). Mentees had increased antiretroviral initiation (28/35, 80% vs 30/70, 42% in matched controls) and viral load completion (28/35, 80% vs 32/70, 45%); however, no differences were found in viral load suppression or RIC at 6 or 12 months. Mentors reported being motivated to participate in the program because of previous personal struggles with HIV and a desire to help their peers. Mentees reported fears of disclosure and lack of acceptance of their status as barrier to accessing services, but they felt free to talk to their mentors, valued the mentorship program, and indicated a preference for phone calls. Conclusions: Peer mentorship in youths is acceptable to both mentors and mentees and appears to increase linkage to care and viral load completion rates.