High patient acceptability but low coverage of provider-initiated HIV testing among adult outpatients with symptoms of acute infectious illness in coastal Kenya

Agutu CA, Oduor TH, Kombo BK, Mugo PM, Chira SM, Ogada FW, Rinke de Wit TF, Chege W, van der Elst EM, Graham SM, Sanders EJ
PLoS One. 2021;16

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BACKGROUND: Only approximately one in five adults are offered HIV testing by providers when seeking care for symptoms of acute illness in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our aims were to estimate testing coverage and identify predictors of provider-initiated testing and counselling (PITC) and barriers to PITC implementation in this population. METHODS: We assessed HIV testing coverage among adult outpatients 18-39 years of age at four public and two private health facilities in coastal Kenya, during a 3- to 6-month surveillance period at each facility. A subset of patients who reported symptoms including fever, diarrhoea, fatigue, body aches, sore throat or genital ulcers were enrolled to complete a questionnaire independently of PITC offer. We assessed predictors of PITC in this population using generalised estimating equations and identified barriers to offering PITC through focus group discussion with healthcare workers (HCW) at each facility. RESULTS: Overall PITC coverage was 13.7% (1600 of 11,637 adults tested), with 1.9% (30) testing positive. Among 1,374 participants enrolled due to symptoms, 378 (27.5%) were offered PITC and 352 (25.6%) were tested, of whom 3.7% (13) tested positive. Among participants offered HIV testing, 93.1% accepted it; among participants not offered testing, 92.8% would have taken an HIV test if offered. The odds of completed PITC were increased among older participants (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.4-2.1 for 30-39 years, relative to 18-24 years), men (aOR 1.3, 95% CI 1.1-1.7); casual labourers (aOR 1.3, 95% CI 1.0-1.7); those paying by cash (aOR 1.2, 95% CI 1.0-1.4) or insurance (aOR 3.0, 95% CI 1.5-5.8); participants with fever (aOR 1.5, 95% CI 1.2-1.8) or genital ulcers (aOR 4.0, 95% CI 2.7-6.0); and who had tested for HIV >1 year ago (aOR 1.4, 95% CI 1.0-2.0) or had never tested (aOR 2.2, 95% CI 1.5-3.1). Provider barriers to PITC implementation included lack of HCW knowledge and confidence implementing guidelines, limited capacity and health systems constraints. CONCLUSION: PITC coverage was low, though most patients would accept testing if offered. Missed opportunities to promote testing during care-seeking were common and innovative solutions are needed.