The pharmacy as a link to reaching men with HIV testing services: a case of HIV Self-testing Challenge Fund Project, Kenya


BACKGROUND: In 2018, Kenya's National AIDS and STI Control Programme (NASCOP) incorporated HIVST in the national guidelines to increase access to testing among populations with low testing rates such as men. Beginning July 2019, PS Kenya implemented HIV self- testing project in Nairobi and Mombasa regions targeting men through pharmacy distribution. This abstract compares number of men testing using self-test kits purchased from the pharmacies with men who went for conventional HIV Testing services at the health facilities.
DESCRIPTION: PS Kenya project staff recruited 700 registered physical pharmacies in Nairobi and Mombasa. The pharmacies were selected according to potential sales volumes and proximity to hotspots. Merchandising was done to ensure availability and visibility of HIVST kits at each pharmacy. The project also supplied the pharmacies with data collection registers that capture age of the client, gender, type of kit purchased and testing history. The registers were collected at the end of each month and data entry to project's DHIS2 was done. We reviewed sex-disaggregated data for HIVST and HIV testing data from the Ministry of Health reporting system (DHIS 2) for the period between April 2020 and October 2020. We compared the proportions of men reached with HIVST with that of men reached with conventional testing strategies.
LESSONS LEARNED: Of the 22,200 kits sold over the period 15,286 which was 68.9% were purchased by men aged 20 years and above.From MoH DHIS2, over the same period, 783,632 conventional health facility-based HIV tests were conducted, of which 61.8% were from women while 38.2% were from men aged above 20 years. The differences are statistically significant (P<0.05).
CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggests that men may prefer purchasing test kits from pharmacies as opposed to attending services from conventional HTS approaches. There is need to collect in-depth data to determine preferences of men for HIVST services and linkage strategies.