Improving HIV prevention and treatment through self-testing strategies.

The Owete study deploys two recent innovations—HIV self-testing and social network analysis—to promote HIV prevention and treatment among fishermen living in communities along Kenya’s Lake Victoria shoreline. Fishermen in this region are highly mobile and face many challenges accessing medical care. In this study, men who are highly connected to other men in their community are recruited to distribute HIV self-testing kits to their peers with the aim of increasing HIV testing and linkage to HIV prevention and treatment.

HIV epidemic in sub-Saharan AfricaBoat on the water

Ending the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) requires innovative approaches to engaging men in HIV testing: Nearly 50% of HIV-positive men in SSA are unaware of their HIV status and have lower uptake of HIV treatment (ART) and  pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for prevention. This is particularly true of men working in the fishing communities along Lake Victoria's shores in SSA. These fishermen are highly mobile and have notably low rates of HIV testing and linkage to HIV prevention and treatment, despite the increasing availability of these services. As a result, HIV transmission risks remain high in these fishing communities. 

Innovation and social networks

Two recent innovations: HIV self-testing (HIVST) and social network-based interventions hold promise for overcoming barriers to HIV testing and linkage to treatment for HIV-positive men and prevention for HIV-negative men.

This study seeks to determine if an HIV status-neutral, social network-based approach can increase HIV testing, linkage to HIV prevention and treatment, and better health outcomes in men.

Better health outcomes in men would, in turn, reduce HIV risks in women in their communities.

Owete intervention increases HIV self-testing and linkage! See our IAS 2023 presentation to learn more.

Funding and assistance

This study is funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), identification code NCT04772469. For information about testing, visit the ClinicalTrials.gov site.