In the UK people of black African heritage account for almost one third of the 96,000 people estimated to have HIV, which means nearly four out of every 100 black Africans are HIV positive. However, many are not diagnosed with HIV until they are at an advanced stage of infection, resulting in significant increased risk of ill-health and death. While early testing can reduce these health inequities, most HIV testing in the UK occurs in sexual health clinics (a service not regularly used by most Africans), or antenatal services (a service not used by men). A wider range of occasions and locations where HIV testing is offered to black African people may increase testing uptake because of greater accessibility. In addition, stigma and fear about the impact of an HIV diagnosis are complex issues, and affect motivation to test. Widening the availability of tests may help to normalise testing and knowledge of personal HIV status amongst black Africans.
Home-sampling kits, accessed via clinical settings and the Internet have been shown to be an acceptable and feasible alternative to clinic attendance for HIV testing. This NIHR-funded study seeks to develop and test an intervention of targeted distribution of home sampling kits (HSK) within existing primary care and community services. We aim to develop an intervention that is sustainable, cost effective, and will improve the availability, acceptability and uptake of HIV testing amongst black African people. This will include how best to embed HSK within existing services, and establishing acceptable pathways for obtaining and managing results, and onward referral.
The study will run from June 2014 to March 2016. Phase 1 is currently underway and will explore barriers and facilitators to offering, accepting and using an HSK through a series of focus group discussions and interviews with black Africans and service providers (commissioners, GPs, pharmacists and community workers).
More information about the study is available on the study website - http://haus.org.uk/