Stakeholders' recommendations for implementing HIV self-testing and secondary distribution of HIV self-testing for male partners of Option B+ clients in Haiti as an assisted partner service strategy: a qualitative study
Despite significant public health efforts, HIV testing remains low among men in Haiti. HIV self-testing (HIVST), which allows people to test in private, is an effective strategy for increasing HIV testing among men. Secondary distribution of HIVST to male partners of women living with HIV (WLWH) is one promising assisted partner services strategy to address the low HIV testing rate among men in Haiti. However, little research has been conducted on how to implement HIVST in the Caribbean. The
... pose of this study was to assess stakeholders' perspectives towards HIVST and to obtain their recommendations for how to implementing HIVST in Haiti to reach male partners of Option B+ clients. Methods Sixteen key informant interviews and nine focus groups with 44 healthcare workers (HCWs), 31 Option B+ clients, and 13 men were carried out in Haiti. Key informants were representatives of the Ministry of Health and of a non-governmental agency involved in HIV partner services. HCWs included program leads and staff members from the HIV care and treatment program, the Option B+ program, the community health service program, and the HIV counseling and testing services from 2 hospitals. Results Perceived HIVST advantages included an increase in the number of people who would learn their HIV status and start treatment. Perceived disadvantages were lack of support to ensure self-testers initiate treatment, uncertainty about male partner's reaction, risk of violence towards a woman by a man after having received an HIVST kit from her, and the inability of a woman to counsel a man in case his self-test result is positive. Recommendations for implementing HIVST and secondary distribution of HIVST included coupling HIVST distribution with public information, education, and communication 3 through media and social marketing; relying on community health workers to mediate the use of HIVST and ensure linkage to care; and piloting HIVST programs on a small scale. Conclusions HIVST is an appropriate and feasible HIV prevention strategy for men and women. Our findings indicate that more research is needed to determine and pilot how best to implement HIVST and secondary distribution of HIVST by Option B+ clients in Haiti.