Alone But Supported: A Qualitative Study of an HIV Self-testing App in an Observational Cohort Study in South Africa

Ricky Janssen*, Nora Engel, Aliasgar Esmail, Suzette Oelofse, Anja Krumeich, Keertan Dheda, Nitika Pant Pai*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Web of Science)


HIV self-testing has the potential to improve test access and uptake, but concerns remain regarding counselling and support during and after HIV self-testing. We investigated an oral HIV self-testing strategy together with a mobile phone/tablet application to see if and how it provided counselling and support, and how it might impact test access. This ethnographic study was nested within an ongoing observational cohort study in Cape Town, South Africa. Qualitative data was collected from study participants and study staff using 33 semi-structured interviews, one focus group discussion, and observation notes. The app provided information and guidance while also addressing privacy concerns. The flexibility and support provided by the strategy gave participants more control in choosing whom they included during testing. Accessibility concerns included smartphone access and usability issues for older and rural users. The adaptable access and support of this strategy could aid in expanding test access in South Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-474
Number of pages8
JournalAids and Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • mHealth
  • Counselling
  • Privacy
  • Stigma
  • Test access

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