Combining community-based HIV testing methods to achieve high testing coverage

A hybrid mobile approach for population-wide HIV testing in rural east Africa: an observational study. 

Chamie G, Clark TD, Kabami J, Kadede K, Ssemmondo E, Steinfeld R, Lavoy G, Kwarisiima D, Sang N, Jain V, Thirumurthy H, Liegler T, Balzer LB, Petersen ML, Cohen CR, Bukusi EA, Kamya MR, Havlir DV, Charlebois ED. Lancet HIV. 2016 Mar;3(3):e111-9. doi: 10.1016/S2352-3018(15)00251-9. Epub 2016 Jan 26.

Background: Despite large investments in HIV testing, only an estimated 45% of HIV-infected people in sub-Saharan Africa know their HIV status. Optimum methods for maximising population-level testing remain unknown. We sought to show the effectiveness of a hybrid mobile HIV testing approach at achieving population-wide testing coverage.

Methods: We enumerated adult (≥15 years) residents of 32 communities in Uganda (n=20) and Kenya (n=12) using a door-to-door census. Stable residence was defined as living in the community for at least 6 months in the past year. In each community, we did 2 week multiple-disease community health campaigns (CHCs) that included HIV testing, counselling, and referral to care if HIV infected; people who did not participate in the CHCs were approached for home-based testing (HBT) for 1-2 months within the 1-6 months after the CHC. We measured population HIV testing coverage and predictors of testing via HBT rather than CHC and non-testing.

Findings: From April 2, 2013, to June 8, 2014, 168 772 adult residents were enumerated in the door-to-door census. HIV testing was achieved in 131 307 (89%) of 146 906 adults with stable residence. 13 043 of 136 033 (9.6%, 95% CI 9.4-9.8) adults with and without stable residence had HIV; median CD4 count was 514 cells per µL (IQR 355-703). Among 131 307 adults with stable residence tested, 56 106 (43%) reported no previous testing. Among 13 043 HIV-infected adults, 4932 (38%) were unaware of their status. Among 105 170 CHC attendees with stable residence 104 635 (99%) accepted HIV testing. Of 131 307 adults with stable residence tested, 104 635 (80%; range 60-93% across communities) tested via CHCs. In multivariable analyses of adults with stable residence, predictors of non-testing included being male (risk ratio [RR] 1.52, 95% CI 1.48-1.56), single marital status (1.70, 1.66-1.75), age 30-39 years (1.58, 1.52-1.65 vs 15-19 years), residence in Kenya (1.46, 1.41-1.50), and migration out of the community for at least 1 month in the past year (1.60, 1.53-1.68). Compared with unemployed people, testing for HIV was more common among farmers (RR 0.73, 95% CI 0.67-0.79) and students (0.73, 0.69-0.77); and compared with people with no education, testing was more common in those with primary education (0.84, 0.80-0.89).

Interpretation: A hybrid, mobile approach of multiple-disease CHCs followed by HBT allowed for flexibility at the community and individual level to help reach testing coverage goals. Men and mobile populations remain challenges for universal testing.

Abstract access

Editor’s notes: Achieving high levels of HIV testing coverage remains a challenge in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. Conventional facility-based HIV testing models are insufficient to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and maximise the prevention benefits of treatment. This study was able to achieve extremely high levels of HIV testing coverage in a short period of time by strategically combining two community-based testing approaches. By offering testing through multiple-disease community health campaigns (CHC), followed by focused home-based testing (HBT) for individuals who did not attend the CHCs, nearly 90% of adult stable residents accepted HIV testing. This near-universal coverage was achieved in all 32 communities (range 84%‒95%) across two countries, in a variety of settings with different rates of HIV prevalence and of previous testing. Testing uptake in the CHCs varied considerably across the communities (52%‒82%), demonstrating the value of this hybrid approach to expand coverage. Non-stable residents, who were 13% of the population, had low rates of testing uptake (22%). High rates of mobility remain a particular challenge for universal HIV testing coverage, and additional strategies are necessary to engage this group. A potential limitation of a focused approach to HBT is the need for community enumeration.  Still the results illustrate that achieving high HIV testing coverage is feasible with a combination of community-based approaches.

Kenya, Uganda
  • share