Introduction: HIV self-testing (HIVST) is recommended by the World Health Organization in addition to other testing modalities to increase uptake of HIV testing, particularly among harder-to-reach populations. This study provides the first empirical evidence of the costs of door-to-door community-based HIVST distribution in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Methods: HIVST kits were distributed door-to-door in 71 sites across Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe from June 2016 to May 2017. Programme expenditures, supplemented by on-site observation and monitoring and evaluation data were used to estimate total economic and unit costs of HIVST distribution, by input and site. Inputs were categorized into start-up, capital and recurrent costs. Sensitivity and scenario analyses were performed to assess the impact of key parameters on unit costs. Results: In total, 152,671, 103,589 and 93,459 HIVST kits were distributed in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe over 12, 11 and 10 months respectively. Across these countries, 43% to 51% of HIVST kits were distributed to men. The average cost per HIVST kit distributed was US$8.15, US$16.42 and US$13.84 in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively, with pronounced intersite variation within countries driven largely by site-level fixed costs. Site-level recurrent costs were 70% to 92% of full costs and 20% to 62% higher than routine HIV testing services (HTS) costs. Personnel costs contributed from 26% to 52% of total costs across countries reflecting differences in remuneration approaches and country GDP. Conclusions: These early door-to-door community HIVST distribution programmes show large potential, both for reaching untested populations and for substantial economies of scale as HIVST programmes scale-up and mature. From a societal perspective, the costs of HIVST appear similar to conventional HTS, with the higher providers’ costs substantially offsetting user costs. Future approaches to minimizing cost and/or maximize testing coverage could include unpaid door-to-door community-led distribution to reach end-users and integrating HIVST into routine clinical services via direct or secondary distribution strategies with lower fixed costs.
- costs and cost analysis
- HIV self-testing