What should the ideal HIV self-test look like? A usability study of test prototypes in unsupervised HIV self-testing in Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa
Journal article published in AIDS and behavior, July 2014
HIV self-testing (HIVST) is increasingly being sought and offered globally, yet there is limited information about the test features that will be required for an HIV self-test to be easy to use, acceptable to users, and feasible for manufacturers to produce.
We conducted formative usability research with participants who were naïve to HIVST using five prototypes in Kenya, Malawi, and South Africa. The tests selected ranged from early-stage prototypes to commercially ready products and had a diverse set of features. A total of 150 lay users were video-recorded conducting unsupervised self-testing and interviewed to understand their opinions of the test. Participants did not receive a test result, but interpreted standardized result panels.
This study demonstrated that users will refer to the instructions included with the test, but these can be confusing or difficult to follow. Errors were common, with less than 25 % of participants conducting all steps correctly and 47.3 % of participants performing multiple errors, particularly in sample collection and transfer. Participants also had difficulty interpreting results. To overcome these issues, the ideal HIV self-test requires pictorial instructions that are easy to understand, simple sample collection with integrated test components, fewer steps, and results that are easy to interpret.