Jesal Gohil, Emmanuel S. Baja, Tyrone R. Sy, Ernest G. Guevara, Charlotte Hemingway, Paul Mark B. Medina, Leila Coppens, Godofreda V. Dalmacion,
Miriam Taegtmeyer Related Institution
Department of Medicine - The Royal London Hospital Institute of Clinical Epidemiology - National Institutes of Health - University of the Philippines Manila
Publication Sub Type
Journal Article, Original
BACKGROUND: The Philippines is facing a rapidly rising HIV epidemic among young men who have sex with men (MSM). Testing rates among young populations is poor. HIV self-testing (HIVST) is a promising strategy to address this testing gap. The study's purpose was to explore the perceived acceptability, feasibility and programmatic challenges of HIVST among key informants and target users.
METHOD: A qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions (FGD). We interviewed 15 key informants involved with HIV testing programs or policies and 42 target users in six FGD in Metro Manila. We held separate discussions with high socio-economic MSM (n = 12), urban poor MSM (n = 15) and transgender women (TGW) (n = 15). Results were analysed using a thematic framework approach.
RESULTS: MSM and TGW welcomed the convenience and privacy HIVST could provide. They preferred an inexpensive accurate blood-based kit attained from reputable sites. Key informants at national and local level equally welcomed HIVST but identified a number of policy and regulatory issues. Both groups articulated the challenge of enrolling those who test reactive using HIVST to further testing and treatment in an environment characterised by acute stigma around HIV. CONCLUSIONS: HIVST was found to be highly acceptable to target users and was welcomed as an additional testing approach at national level. Strategic alliances are now needed between stakeholders to proactively deliver a patient-centered HIVST program that could provide an effective, safe means of increasing testing coverage in this escalating context. References
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