Dr Tafadzwa Dzinamarira.

Improving the Uptake of HIV Self-testing Among Rwandan Men

Dr Tafadzwa Dzinamarira’s PhD in Public Health aimed to enhance men’s engagement in HIV services, specifically, HIV self-testing (HIVST) among men in Rwanda.

Supervised by Professor Tivani Mashamba-Thompson, the study employed a multi-phase mixed-method approach.

‘In Phase 1, we conducted a systematic review to map the available evidence on health education programmes for men in low and middle-income countries. In Phase 2, we conducted in-depth interviews with stakeholders in Rwandan HIV response and healthcare providers to determine their perspectives on the implementation of HIVST in Rwanda. In Phase 3, we conducted a cross-sectional survey to assess HIVST awareness and acceptability among men in Kigali, Rwanda,’ he explained.

Guided by the findings from Phases 1, 2, and 3, with the assistance of colleagues, Dzinamarira employed the nominal group technique to develop and optimise a health education programme to improve the uptake of HIVST among men in the country.

‘In Phase 4, we employed a pragmatic pilot randomised controlled trial to assess the impact of the intervention,’ he said.

Dzinamarira’s thesis contains six published papers and two manuscripts under review.

He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic triggered new research avenues. ‘I have been engaged in writing scientific manuscripts with co-authors from within UKZN, ministries of health and non-governmental organisations to inform the COVID-19 response in Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Africa at large. I am also involved in studies measuring the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the provision of HIV services to inform strategies to put high HIV burden countries back on track to meet the end AIDS 2030 goal.’

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic ignited his interest in the role of telemedicine in ensuring continued healthcare delivery in the context of restrictions such as those employed to control COVID-19.

Words: Nombuso Dlamini