The effect of demand-side financial incentives for increasing linkage into HIV treatment and voluntary medical male circumcision: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials in low- and middle-income countries


INTRODUCTION: Linkage to HIV treatment is a vital step in the cascade of HIV services and is critical to slowing down HIV transmission in countries with high HIV prevalence. Equally, linkage to voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) has been shown to decrease HIV transmission by 60% and increasing numbers of men receiving VMMC has a substantial impact on HIV incidence. However, only 48% of newly diagnosed HIV positive people link to HIV treatment let alone access HIV prevention methods such as VMMC globally. METHODS: A systematic review investigating the effect of demand-side financial incentives (DSFIs) on linkage into HIV treatment or VMMC for studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries. We searched the title, abstract and keywords in eight bibliographic databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, Econlit, Cochrane, SCOPUS, IAS Conference database of abstracts, and CROI Conference database of abstracts. Searches were done in December 2016 with no time restriction. We fitted random effects (RE) models and used forest plots to display risk ratios (RR) and 95% CIs separately for the linkage to VMMC outcome. The RE model was also used to assess heterogeneity for the linkage to HIV treatment outcome. RESULTS: Of the 1205 citations identified from searches, 48 full text articles were reviewed culminating in nine articles in the final analysis. Five trials investigated the effect of DSFIs on linkage to HIV treatment while four trials investigated linkage to VMMC. Financial incentives improved linkage to HIV treatment in three of the five trials that investigated this outcome. Significant improvements were observed among postpartum women RR 1.26 (95% CI: 1.08; 1.48), among people who inject drugs RR 1.42 (95% CI: 1.09; 1.96), and among people testing at the clinic RR 1.10 (95% CI: 1.07; 1.14). One of the two trials that did not find significant improvement in linkage to ART was among people testing HIV positive in clinics RR 0.96 (95% CI: 0.81; 1.16) while the other was among new HIV positive individuals identified through a community testing study RR 0.82 (95% CI: 0.56; 1.22). We estimate an average 4-fold increase in the uptake of circumcision among HIV negative uncircumcised men from our fitted RE model with overall RR 4.00 (95% CI: 2.17; 7.37). There was negligible heterogeneity in the estimates from the different studies with I-squared = 0.0%; p = 0.923. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, DSFIs appeared to improve linkage for both HIV treatment and VMMC with greater effect for VMMC. Demand-side financial incentives could improve linkage to HIV treatment or VMMC in low- and middle-income countries although uptake by policy makers remains a challenge


Choko AT, Candfield S, Maheswaran H, Lepine A, Corbett EL, Fielding K




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Linkage/engagement in care
    • Retention in care
  • Prevention
    • Biomedical interventions


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