Kenya: 'Mystery shoppers' in pharmacies highlight issues with distribution of HIV self-tests

Private sector providers may need more support and training to effectively distribute HIV self-testing kits to adolescents and young adults, according to research conducted in Kenya and presented to the 10th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS 2019) last week in Mexico City.

A “mystery shopper” exercise showed that test kits were not always displayed and were occasionally sold above the ticket price, that there were stock-outs and that providers gave inaccurate information when trying to influence the choice of testing kits. The investigators intend to use these to help support pharmacies and private clinics selling HIV self-testing kits.

The research was undertaken as part of a wider project to introduce HIV self-testing into Kenya. Investigators wanted to understand the factors associated with effective private sector provision for adolescents and young adults.

They therefore designed a mystery shopper exercise involving 55 private sector providers (41 pharmacies and 14 clinics) in Nairobi and Mombasa. All received training about the selling of quality-assured oral or blood-based HIV self-testing kits. All the facilities were provided with kits for sale at a subsidised price. Mystery shoppers aged between 16 and 24 years were recruited and received two days training before going to a pharmacy or clinic to buy a self-testing kit.

Immediately after their visit, the shoppers were interviewed about their experiences. Read more via AIDSmap