Increasing HIV-testing in men: what works?

Systematic review of strategies to increase men's HIV-testing in sub-Saharan Africa

Hensen B, Taoka S, Lewis JJ, Weiss HA, Hargreaves J. AIDS. 2014 Jul; DOI:10.1097/QAD.0000000000000395

Objective: This systematic review summarizes evidence on the effectiveness of strategies to increase men's HIV-testing in sub-Saharan Africa.

Methods: Medline, EmBase, Africa-Wide Information and Global Health were searched. Cluster and individually randomized trials evaluating interventions to increase the proportion of adults (≥15 years) testing for HIV were eligible if they were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa, included men in the study population, and reported HIV-testing data by sex. References were independently screened.

Findings: Of the 1 852 references, 15 papers including 16 trials were eligible. Trials were judged too heterogeneous to combine in meta-analysis. Three interventions invited men to attend antenatal care-based HIV-testing via pregnant partners, of which two showed a significant effect on partner-testing. One intervention invited men to HIV-test through pregnant partners and showed an increase in HIV-testing when it was offered in bars compared with health facilities. A trial of notification to partners of newly diagnosed HIV-positive people showed an increase in testing where notification was by healthcare providers compared with notification by the patient. Three interventions reached men already at health facilities and eight reported the effects of community-based HIV-testing. Mobile-testing had a significant effect on HIV-testing compared with standard voluntary counselling and testing. Home-based testing also had a significant effect, but reached smaller numbers of men than mobile-testing.

Discussion: Interventions to encourage HIV-testing can increase men's levels of HIV-testing. Community-based programmes in particular had a large effect on population levels of HIV-testing. More data on costs and potential population impact of these approaches over different time-horizons would aid policy-makers in planning resource allocation to increase male HIV-testing.

Abstract access [1] 

Editor’s notes: Approaches to increase rates of HIV-testing among men are urgently needed as uptake of HIV-testing in men remains lower than in women across sub-Saharan Africa. This systematic review identified published randomised controlled trials evaluating the impact of programmes to increase HIV-testing among men in sub-Saharan Africa. Few programmes focus on men specifically but some, like mobile testing, can have a substantial effect on HIV testing compared with standard voluntary counselling and testing. In addition, to be of direct benefit to men, increased HIV-testing among men is likely to lead to increased uptake among women and improved adherence to prevention of mother-to-child transmission. To increase men’s HIV-testing at a population level, country and time-specific combinations of available strategies are likely to be required. Along with additional research to determine whether these strategies encourage repeat-testing by high-risk HIV-negative men.

HIV testing [4]
Africa [5]
Cameroon [6], Democratic Republic of the Congo [7], Kenya [8], Malawi [9], South Africa [10], Swaziland [11], Uganda [12], Zambia [13], Zimbabwe [14]
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