Impact of HIV Self-Test Distribution to Male Partners of ANC Clients: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial in Kenya

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Abstract

Background:

In Kenya, HIV testing during first antenatal care (ANC) visit is a standard practice for pregnant women. Despite a policy promoting male partner testing in ANC, few male partners accompany their partners for HIV testing. We evaluated the impact of using oral HIV self-testing on HIV couples testing among ANC clients in Kenya and their male partners.

Methods:

In a 3-arm randomized control study in eastern and central Kenya, consenting women attending the first ANC visit were randomized to receive: (1) standard-of-care and a standard information card; (2) an improved card stating the importance of male HIV testing; and (3) 2 oral HIV self-test kits and HIV testing information. Women completed a baseline and endline questionnaire, and consenting male partners were surveyed 3 months after enrolling female ANC clients. The primary outcome was HIV couples testing as reported by the female partners.

Results:

We randomized 1410 women at their first ANC visit of which 1215 were successfully followed up. One thousand one hundred thirty-three male partners consented to the survey. In the self-testing study arm 3, 79.1% (334/422) of the women reported that their partner tested for HIV as part of a couple, compared with 27% (110/406) and 35.1% (136/387) in study arm 1 and study arm 2, respectively. More than 90% of male partners who used the oral HIV self-test kits reported that it was easy to take sample and read the test results.

Conclusions:

The study demonstrates that the ANC platform offers a unique opportunity to increase HIV couples testing among men using self-testing through distribution by their female partners.

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