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Sex differences in HIV testing among elders in Sub-Saharan Africa: a systematic review protocol

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-19, 23:36 authored by AT Gebremeskel, Muyiwa OmonaiyeMuyiwa Omonaiye, S Yaya
Background: Elders (age 50+) HIV demographic (age and sex) data are essential to better understand their HIV service utilization and develop appropriate evidence-based responses and policies. Despite a significant prevalence rate of HIV and growing numbers of this population group, data are still scarce, and studies have neglected them in Sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of this protocol is to outline the methodological process of a systematic review that will gather qualitative and quantitative data to critically examine sex differences in HIV testing among elders (age 50+) in Sub-Saharan Africa. Methods: This protocol adheres to the PRISMA-P reporting guidelines. We will conduct a systematic database search to retrieve all observational and qualitative studies. Electronic search strategies will be developed for MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, Global Health, and CINAHL for studies reporting HIV data. Two reviewers will independently screen all citations, full-text articles, and abstract data. The search strategy will consist of free-text and Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms. Search terms for elders (50+) will include the following: “elders”, “older adults”, “aged”, “geriatric” and “seniors”. The primary outcome of interest is sex differences in the uptake of HIV counselling and testing (HCT). The study methodological quality (or bias) will be appraised using appropriate tools. Screening, data extraction, and assessments of risk of bias will be performed independently by two reviewers. Narrative synthesis will be conducted with studies that are compatible based on population and outcome. As it will be a systematic review, without human participants’ involvement, there will be no requirement for ethical approval. Discussion: The systematic review will present key evidence on sex differences in HIV testing among elders in Sub-Saharan Africa. The findings will be used to inform program developers, policymakers, and other stakeholders to enhance sex disaggregated HIV data to improve access to HIV counselling and testing service for elders in Sub-Saharan Africa. The final manuscript will be disseminated through a peer-reviewed journal and scientific conferences. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO: CRD42020172737.