Did you hear about HIV self-testing?: HIV self-testing awareness after community-based HIVST distribution in rural Zimbabwe

A Rotsaert, E Sibanda, K Hatzold, C Johnson, E Corbett, M Neuman, F Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Several trials of community-based HIV self-testing (HIVST) provide evidence on the acceptability and feasibility of campaign-style distribution to reach first-time testers, men and adolescents. However, we do not know how many remain unaware of HIVST after distribution campaigns, and who these individuals are. Here we look at factors associated with never having heard of HIVST after community-based campaign-style HIVST distribution in rural Zimbabwe between September 2016 and July 2017.

Analysis of representative population-based trial survey data collected from 7146 individuals following community-based HIVST distribution to households was conducted. Factors associated with having never heard of HIVST were determined using multivariable mixed-effects logistic regression adjusted for clustered design.

Among survey participants, 1308 (18.3%) self-reported having never heard of HIVST. Individuals who were between 20 and 60 years old {20–29 years: [aOR = 0.74, 95% CI (0.58–0.95)], 30–39 years: [aOR = 0.56, 95% CI (0.42–0.74)], 40–49 years: [aOR = 0.50, 95% CI (0.36–0.68)], 50–59 years [aOR = 0.58, 95% CI (0.42–0.82)]}, who had attained at least ordinary level education [aOR = 0.51, 95% CI (0.34–0.76)], and who had an HIV test before [aOR = 0.30, 95% CI (0.25–0.37)] were less likely to have never heard of HIVST compared with individuals who were between 16 and 19 years old, who had a lower educational level and who had never tested for HIV before, respectively. In addition, non-household heads or household head representatives [aOR = 1.21, 95% CI (1.01–1.45)] were more likely to report never having heard of HIVST compared to household head and representatives.

Around one fifth of survey participants remain unaware of HIVST even after an intensive community-based door-to-door HIVST distribution. Of note, those least likely to have heard of self-testing were younger, less educated and less likely to have tested previously. Household heads appear to play an important role in granting or denying access to self-testing to other household members during door-to-door distribution. Differentiated distribution models are needed to ensure access to all.
Original languageEnglish
Article number51
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue numberS1
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Community-based distribution
  • HIV self-testing


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