HIV Self-Testing Can Be Liberating to HIV-Positive Women and Their Sexual Partners: A Qualitative Study in Kisumu, Western Kenya

Abstract [from journal]

Background: Nearly half of Kenyan men with HIV-positive partners do not know their partner's status. We carried out a qualitative substudy to explore the experiences of a sample of HIV-positive women when distributing HIV self-tests (HIVST) to their sexual partners.

Methods: HIV-positive women were invited for in-depth interviews to share their experiences in offering HIVST to their partners and how self-testing impacted their relationships.

Results: Two hundred ninety-seven women were randomized to HIVST, 12 of whom self-reported being HIV positive and 11 participated in the interview. Self-testing procedures and interpretation of results were well understood. Participants were strategic in approaching their partners, thus avoided partner violence. Couple testing was high, which strengthened relationships, improved condom use, and empowered women to make joint decisions concerning their health.

Conclusions: Giving HIV-positive women HIVST kits to distribute to their male partners is feasible and safe. Providers who have challenges reaching male partners with testing should consider HIVST.