April 04, 2013
1 min read

HIV self-testing preferred over facility-based testing

You've successfully added to your alerts. You will receive an email when new content is published.

Click Here to Manage Email Alerts

We were unable to process your request. Please try again later. If you continue to have this issue please contact customerservice@slackinc.com.

Data from a systematic review suggest that HIV self-testing was acceptable and preferred by those in both high- and low-risk populations. In addition, the partners of those who self-tested also were more likely to self-test.

“The preference was largely driven by the fact that the oral self-tests are non-invasive, convenient, easy to swab and do not involve a finger stick or blood from your arm for a preliminary screen,” Nitika Pant Pai,MD, PhD, clinical researcher at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, said in a press release. “A lot of people also wanted to take the oral self-test home to their partners.”

Pant Pai and colleagues evaluated 21 studies that took place from 2000 to 2012. Seven studies used an unsupervised self-test strategy and 14 studies used a supervised strategy, in which a health care professional was there for assistance. The supervised strategy studies included 4,890 participants and the unsupervised strategy studies included 7,512 participants. Most of studies used oral self-tests.

The acceptability ranged from 74% to 96% for both supervised and unsupervised methods. The specificity of the HIV self-tests was high across both strategies, but sensitivity was slightly lower in the unsupervised strategies. The feasibility of the tests varied, in that some populations, generally those in high-prevalence areas, were more likely report errors while self-testing. In one unsupervised study, data suggested that 96% of patients who tested positive said they would seek post-test counseling.

Most preferred oral tests compared with finger-stick tests, and most also preferred the tests to be available over-the-counter. Various groups were willing to pay $7 to $40 for the test.

“Thirty years into the HIV epidemic, there is no vaccine in sight,” Pant Pai said. “Treatment as a prevention strategy has been known to work, but uptake of HIV screening seems to be limited by a societal problem: HIV stigma and perceived discrimination.”

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant disclosures.