Examining the effects of HIV self-testing compared to standard HIV testing services in the general population: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Muhammad S. Jamil, Ingrid Eshun-Wilson, T. Charles Witzel, Nandi Siegfried, Carmen Figueroa, Lastone Chitembo, Busisiwe Msimanga-Radebe, Muhammad S. Pasha, Karin Hatzold, Elizabeth Corbett, Magdalena Barr-DiChiara, Alison J. Rodger, Peter Weatherburn, Elvin Geng, Rachel Baggaley, Cheryl Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background: We updated a 2017 systematic review and compared the effects of HIV self-testing (HIVST) to standard HIV testing services to understand effective service delivery models among the general population. Methods: We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing testing outcomes with HIVST to standard testing in the general population and published between January 1, 2006 and June 4, 2019. Random effects meta-analysis was conducted and pooled risk ratios (RRs) were reported. The certainty of evidence was determined using the GRADE methodology. Findings: We identified 14 eligible RCTs, 13 of which were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa. Support provided to self-testers ranged from no/basic support to one-on-one in-person support. HIVST increased testing uptake overall (RR:2.09; 95% confidence interval: 1.69–2.58; p < 0.0001;13 RCTs; moderate certainty evidence) and by service delivery model including facility-based distribution, HIVST use at facilities, secondary distribution to partners, and community-based distribution. The number of persons diagnosed HIV-positive among those tested (RR:0.81, 0.45–1.47; p = 0.50; 8 RCTs; moderate certainty evidence) and number linked to HIV care/treatment among those diagnosed (RR:0.95, 0.79–1.13; p = 0.52; 6 RCTs; moderate certainty evidence) were similar between HIVST and standard testing. Reported harms/adverse events with HIVST were rare and appeared similar to standard testing (RR:2.52: 0.52–12.13; p = 0.25; 4 RCTs; very low certainty evidence). Interpretation: HIVST appears to be safe and effective among the general population in sub-Saharan Africa with a range of delivery models. It identified and linked additional people with HIV to care. These findings support the wider availability of HIVST to reach those who may not otherwise access testing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100991
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • HIV self-testing
  • HIV testing services
  • Meta-analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • general population


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