BMC Infectious Diseases

Organisation of testing services, structural barriers and facilitators of routine HIV self-testing during sexually transmitted infection consultations: a qualitative study of patients and providers in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire



Sokhna Boye, Alexis Kouadio, Amélé Florence Kouvahe, Anthony Vautier, Odette Ky-Zerbo, Nicolas Rouveau, Mathieu Maheu-Giroux, Romain Silhol, Arlette Simo Fotso, Joseph Larmarange & Dolorès Pourette for ATLAS team



Consultations for sexually transmitted infection (STI) provide an opportunity to offer HIV testing to both patients and their partners. This study describes the organisation of HIV self-testing (HIVST) distribution during STI consultations in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and analyse the perceived barriers and facilitators associated with the use and redistribution of HIVST kits by STI patients.

Materials and methods

A qualitative study was conducted between March and August 2021 to investigate three services providing HIVST: an antenatal care clinic (ANC), a general health centre that also provided STI consultations, and a dedicated STI clinic. Data were collected through observations of medical consultations with STI patients (N = 98) and interviews with both health professionals involved in HIVST distribution (N = 18) and STI patients who received HIVST kits for their partners (N = 20).


In the ANC clinic, HIV testing was routinely offered during the first prenatal visit. HIVST was commonly offered to women who had been diagnosed with an STI for their partner’s use (27/29 observations). In the general health centre, two parallel pathways coexisted: before the consultation, a risk assessment tool was used to offer HIV testing to eligible patients and, after the consultation, patients who had been diagnosed with an STI were referred to a care assistant for HIVST. Due to this HIV testing patient flow, few offers of HIV testing and HIVST were made in this setting (3/16). At the dedicated STI clinic, an HIVST video was played in the waiting room. According to the health professionals interviewed, this video helped reduce the time required to offer HIVST after the consultation. Task-shifting was implemented there: patients were referred to a nurse for HIV testing, and HIVST was commonly offered to STI patients for their partners’ use (28/53). When an HIVST was offered, it was generally accepted (54/58). Both health professionals and patients perceived HIVST positively despite experiencing a few difficulties with respect to offering HIVST to partners and structural barriers associated with the organisation of services.


The organisation of patient flow and task-shifting influenced HIV testing and offers of HIVST kits. Proposing HIVST is more systematic when HIV testing is routinely offered to all patients. Successful integration requires improving the organisation of services, including task-shifting.