Knowledge, attitude and practices towards HIV testing following the introduction of self-testing: The case of the ATLAS project in Côte d’Ivoire
Arlette Simo Fotso, Arsène Kra Kouassi, Marie Claude Boily, Romain Silhol, Anthony Vautier, Joseph Larmarange
HIV testing is a central element of the strategy to end AIDS epidemic, as status awareness is the entry point to HIV care. In West Africa, only 68% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) were aware of their HIV status in 2019. To address the testing gap, the ATLAS project distributed a total of 400000 self-tests (HIVST) in three West African countries between 2019 and 2022, including 200 000 kits in Côte d’Ivoire. The aim of this study is to assess levels and correlates of knowledge, attitude and practice towards HIV conventional testing (tests other than HIVST) and self-testing after the introduction of HIVST in Cote d’Ivoire.
We conducted the population-based cross-sectional in the Bas-Sassandra District of Côte d’Ivoire, 24 months after HIVST was introduced in the region by ATLAS. ATLAS Household Survey (AHS) used a three-stage stratified sampling approach – 3 of the strata are the 3 departments with ATLAS activities and 1 includes departments with almost none, each further stratified on urban and rural settings. Face-to-
face interviews were conducted in a representative a sample of the population aged 15-49. One main objective of the survey was to assess the effect of the ATLAS initiative on HIV testing.
Weighed proportions and chi-square tests were used to assess knowledge of, attitude towards and practice of HIV conventional and self testing, comparing male and female on the one hand and departments with and without ATLAS HIVST distribution activities on the other hand. Logistic regressions were used to identified factors associated with knowledge of, attitude towards and practice of HIV conventional and self testing (ongoing analysis).
A total of 6274 people with median age of 29 were interviewed and completed the questionnaire (3205 males and 3069 females). Most participants were in couple (44% males and 59% females) and have attended school (63% males and 45% females).
Despite most participants knowing about HIV-AIDS (97 % Males and 96% females), very few reported having heard about HIVST (11% males and 10% females). However, most participants showed a positive attitude toward HIVST and reported that they would be interested/very interested to use it if freely available for themselves (75% males and 71% females), as well as for their sexual partners. About 18% of females and 10% of males reported having performed at least 1 conventional test in the last 12 months, while 3% of participants had already used a HIVST in the past.
Although knowledge and use of HIVST remain relatively low in the region, participants show a positive attitude toward HIVST, and express willingness to use it if freely available. Next results will tell how the observed results differ between participants living in department with ATLAS HIVST distribution and others, and how significant are the differences. It will also provide an overview of associated factors. This will provide policy makers with tools for potential actions in order to improve HIV testing and advance progress towards UNAIDS targets to achieve 95 % of PLHIV who know their status by 2025.