Self-testing for HIV infection may contribute to early diagnosis of HIV, but without necessarily increasing antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation.
To investigate whether offering optional home initiation of HIV care after HIV self-testing might increase demand for ART initiation, compared with HIV self-testing accompanied by facility-based services only.
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:
Cluster randomized trial conducted in Blantyre, Malawi, between January 30 and November 5, 2012, using restricted 1:1 randomization of 14 community health worker catchment areas. Participants were all adult (≥16 years) residents (n = 16,660) who received access to home HIV self-testing through resident volunteers. This was a second-stage randomization of clusters allocated to the HIV self-testing group of a parent trial.
Clusters were randomly allocated to facility-based care or optional home initiation of HIV care (including 2 weeks of ART if eligible) for participants reporting positive HIV self-test results.
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:
The preplanned primary outcome compared between groups the proportion of all adult residents who initiated ART within the first 6 months of HIV self-testing availability. Secondary outcomes were uptake of HIV self-testing, reporting of positive HIV self-test results, and rates of loss from ART at 6 months.
A significantly greater proportion of adults in the home group initiated ART (181/8194, 2.2%) compared with the facility group (63/8466, 0.7%; risk ratio [RR], 2.94, 95% CI, 2.10-4.12; P < .001). Uptake of HIV self-testing was high in both the home (5287/8194, 64.9%) and facility groups (4433/8466, 52.7%; RR, 1.23; 95% CI, 0.96-1.58; P = .10). Significantly more adults reported positive HIV self-test results in the home group (490/8194 [6.0%] vs the facility group, 278/8466 [3.3%]; RR, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.16-2.97; P = .006). After 6 months, 52 of 181 ART initiators (28.7%) and 15 of 63 ART initiators (23.8%) in the home and facility groups, respectively, were lost from ART (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.18; 95% CI, 0.62-2.25, P = .57).
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:
Among Malawian adults offered HIV self-testing, optional home initiation of care compared with standard HIV care resulted in a significant increase in the proportion of adults initiating ART.
clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01414413.