Weepi

Piloting HIV self-testing delivery strategies for partners of key populations in Georgia

Grantee

Center for Information and Counseling on Reproductive Health – Tanadgoma, Georgia

Main applicant

Nino Tsereteli, Executive Director, Tanadgoma

Deputy applicant

Kakhaber Kepuladze, Project Manager, Tanadgoma

Principal Investigator 

Irma Kirtadze, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Addiction Studies, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia

Collaborators 

  1. Ketevan Stvilia, GF HIV Program Manager, National Center for Disease Control and Public Health, Tbilisi, Georgia
  2. George Galdava, President, Georgian Association of Dermato-Venerology, Georgia
  3. David Kakhaberi, Executive Director, Equality Movement, Georgia
  4. Anton Belousov, Executive Director, Queer Association – TEMIDA, Georgia

Background

HIV prevalence among MSM is 21.5% in Tbilisi, Georgia and 1.5% among female sex workers. No prevalence data are available for transgender populations but it tends to be considerably higher than in other key populations. Sex work is an important risk factor for HIV transmission into the general population. 6.6% of MSM are practicing sex work in Georgia and sex work is the main source of income for transgender populations in some settings. HIV testing uptake is about 60% among MSM in Georgia and 31.5% among female sex workers. HIV self-testing is being piloted among key populations through different delivery strategies, however, sexual partners of the key populations who are engaged in sex work are not covered. As an important and generally under-researched bridging population, it is important to reach this group with accessible and acceptable testing options.

Objective

To increase testing coverage among sexual partners of MSM, female and transgender sex workers by assessing which strategies for HIV self-testing delivery will increase HIV testing uptake among sexual partners of MSM, female and transgender sex workers.

Methods

A mixed-method approach, using qualitative (Participatory Action Research, individual interviews) and quantitative (pragmatic trial) methods will be applied. The study will be implemented by Tanadgoma, in collaboration with the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDCPH), Georgian Association of Dermato-Venerologists and two community organizations.

Output / impact

The study will provide recommendations for an acceptable strategy for the provision of HIV self-tests to sexual partners of MSM, female and transgender sex workers, thereby contributing to the first “90” target. The project results will have potential for scale up, both geographically and program wise (e.g. by focusing on partners of other key population groups) and can be incorporated into the national HIV program.