Qualitative research on point-of-care testing strategies and programs for HIV

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Point-of-care (POC) testing in communities, home settings and primary healthcare centers plays an important role in cutting delays in HIV diagnosis and in the uptake of voluntary testing and counseling. Qualitative research methods have important potential to overcome the current challenges in expanding HIV POC testing programs and strategies, by examining the diagnostic processes, complex inter-relationships and patterns involved in making POC diagnostics work in real-world settings. This article reviews existing qualitative studies on POC testing strategies and programs for HIV. Qualitative research on POC diagnostics around the uptake of POC tests, the actual diagnostic and testing processes involved, the influence of POC tests on clinical decision-making, communication of decisions and decisions exercised by patients are limited. Equally limited are studies that explore adaptation of POC programs to various socio-cultural contexts. More qualitative research is needed to inform test developers, funders and policymakers.

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