Acceptability and Usability Evaluation of Finger-Stick Whole Blood HIV Self-Test as An HIV Screening Tool Adapted to The General Public in The Central African Republic

Gérard Grésenguet1, 2, Jean de Dieu Longo1, 2, Serge Tonen-Wolyec3, Ralph-Sydney Mboumba Bouassa4, Laurent Belec4, *
1 Centre National de Référence des Maladies Sexuellement Transmissibles et de la Thérapie Antirétrovirale, Bangui, Central African Republic
2 Unité de Recherches et d’Intervention sur les Maladies Sexuellement Transmissibles et le SIDA, Département de Santé Publique, Faculté des Sciences de la Santé de Bangui, Central African Republic
3 Faculté de Médecine et de Pharmacie, Université de Bunia and Université de Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo
4 Laboratoire de Microbiologie, hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, and Faculté de Médecine Paris Descartes, Université Paris Descartes, Sorbonne Paris Cité, Paris, France.

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Creative Commons License
© 2017 Grésenguet et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Hôpital Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou, laboratoire de virologie, 20 rue Leblanc 75015 Paris, France, Tel: (33)1 56 09 39 59; Fax: (33)1 56 09 24 47; E-mail:



Opportunities for HIV testing could be enhanced by offering HIV self-testing (HIVST) in populations that fear stigma and discrimination when accessing conventional HIV counselling and testing. Field experience with HIVST was poorly reported in French-speaking African countries.


To investigate the usability of HIVST in Bangui, Central African Republic.


The prototype self-test Exacto® Test HIV (Biosynex, Strasbourg, France) was used to assess the usability of HIVST in 300 adults living in Bangui, according to WHO technical recommendations. Simplified and easy-to-read leaflet was translated in French and Sango.


Preliminary survey in 3,484 adult volunteers including students, men who have sex with men and female sex workers living in Bangui showed that previous HIV testing in conventional centres for HIV counselling and testing was relatively infrequent and that acceptability of HIVST was elevated, although high heterogeneity could be observed between groups. The notice in French and Sango of Exacto® Test HIV were chosen in 242/300 (80.6%) and 58/300 (19.4%), respectively. It was correctly understood in 273/300 (91.0%). The majority (275/300; 91.6%) correctly performed the HIV self-test; however, 71/300 (23.0%) asked for oral assistance. Most of the participants (273/300; 91.0%) found that performing of the self-test was very easy or easy, and less than Most of participants (273/300; 91.0%) found that performing of the self-test was very easy or easy and less than 1.0% (2/300) found it difficult. Overall the result were correctly interpreted in 96.9% (3,782/3,900), the reading/interpretion errors concerned the positive (96/1,800;5.3%), invalid (17/600;2.8%) and negative (5/1,500; 0.3%) self-test. The Cohen's coefficient κwas 0.94. The main obstacle for HIVST was the educational level, with interpretation difficulties in poorly educated people.


Our observations on profane adults living in Central African Republic, demonstrate: (i) the need to adapt the notice of instruction to African public, including educational pictograms as well as notice in vernacular language(s); (ii) the frequent difficulties in understanding the notice with frequent misinterpretation of test results; (iii) and the generally good usability of the HIV self-test despite these latter pitfalls. More research on exploring the best strategy (i.e. supervised versus unsupervised strategies) for different high- and low- risk populations in resource-constrained settings remains needed.

Keywords: Self-test, HIV, Immunochromatography, Usability, WHO recommendations, French-speaking country, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central African Republic.