Assessing the potential population-level impacts of HIV self-testing distribution among key populations in Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and Senegal: a mathematical modelling analysis



Romain Silhol, Mathieu Maheu-Giroux, Nirali Soni, Arlette Simo Fotso, Nicolas Rouveau, Anthony Vautier, Clémence Doumenc-Aidara, Olivier Geoffroy, Kouassi Noel N’Guessan, Younoussa Sidibe, Ode Kanku Kabemba, Papa Alioune Gueye, Christinah Mukandavire, Peter Vickerman, Abdelaye Keita, Cheikh Tidiane Ndour, Eboi Ehui, Joseph Larmarange, Marie-Claude Boily for the ATLAS Team


Background: A third of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in Western Africa had an undiagnosed infection in 2020. In 2019-2021, the ATLAS programme has distributed a total of 380 000 HIV self-testing (HIVST) kits to key populations (KP) including female sex workers (FSW) and men who have sex with men (MSM), and their partners in Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Senegal. We predicted the potential impact of ATLAS and of national HIVST scale-up strategies among KP.

Methods: A deterministic model of HIV transmission was calibrated to country-specific empirical HIV and intervention data over time. We simulated scenarios reflecting 1) the actual ATLAS HIVST distribution only over 2019-2021 ( 2% of all tests done in countries), and 2) ATLAS followed by a scale-up of HIVST distribution to KP (total of 570 000 kits distributed each year). Impacts on HIV diagnosis, new HIV infections and deaths were derived using counterfactual scenarios without HIVST.

Findings: ATLAS was predicted to substantially increase HIV diagnosis among KP by the end of 2021, especially among MSM in Mali (94.3 percentage point [pp] increase), and a 1.0pp increase overall. ATLAS might have averted a median of 706 new HIV infections among KP over 2019-2028 in the 3 countries combined, especially among MSM, and 1794 new HIV infections (0.4-3.3% of all new HIV infections across countries) and 591 HIV-related deaths overall. HIVST scale-up increased HIV diagnosis at the end of 2028 by around 8pp among FSW and 33pp among MSM in every country. Overall increases ranged from 1.0pp (Cote d’Ivoire) to 11.0pp (Senegal). HIVST scale-up may avert 3-5% of new HIV infections among FSW, 3-10% among FSW clients, and 20-28% among MSM across countries (and 2-16% overall), and avert 13-18% of HIV-related deaths among MSM over 2019-2028.

Interpretation: Scaling-up HIVST distribution among KP in Western Africa may substantially attenuate disparities in access to HIV testing and help reduce HIV infections and deaths among KP and their partners.