Acceptability and perceptions of HIV oral self-testing across settings: A comparative qualitative study among Dominican and Tanzanian female sex workers

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Global Public Health




Dominican Republic; female sex workers; HIV; self-testing; Tanzania


Rapid oral HIV self-tests (HIVST) have potential to increase the proportion of people who know their HIV status, especially among stigmatised populations. This study was embedded in two cohorts of female sex workers (FSW) in the Dominican Republic (DR) and Tanzania. Qualitative interviews with 40 FSW were conducted to explore perceived acceptability of HIVST. Interviews were analysed using inductive and deductive thematic coding. Emergent themes were organised by socio-ecological framework levels. FSW in both settings responded positively to the ease of use of HIVST but questioned test accuracy due to the use of saliva rather than blood. FSW in the DR had a more cautious response, while women in Tanzania had favourable perceptions expressing eagerness to use it. At the individual level, themes shaping participants’ interest included autonomy, HIV risk perception, and emotional well-being for those with reactive test results, and self-efficacy. At the interpersonal level, privacy, confidentiality, sex work and HIV stigma and social support were salient. Structural level themes focused on health systems including linkages to HIV treatment, provider roles, and access (cost, travel, distribution). Understanding FSW’s perceptions and acceptability of HIVST is essential to its integration into health systems and programmes using a community-driven approach.