Do you know what you need to know about self-testing? The OHTN recently published its Rapid Response findings on HIV self-testing – HIV self-testing in high-income settings: Acceptability, potential benefits and harms, issues related to linkage to care, interventions to increase HIV self-testing. The key take-home messages are:
- HIV self-testing has the potential to increase rates of HIV testing and is acceptable to a range of populations in a variety of contexts.
- HIV self-testing is believed to produce public health benefits by increasing the number of people who test, the frequency of testing, the number of people who know their status, and the number of people linked to treatment and care — all of which contribute to decreasing HIV transmission.
- There is little evidence of harms related to HIV self-testing, but concerns remain about the reliability of currently available test kits (especially in the early stages of HIV infection) and whether people who have a reactive HIV self test are linked to care for confirmatory testing.
- Although there is some evidence that linkage to care rates after positive HIV self-testing are no worse than after facility-based testing, this is one area that would benefit from further empirical research.
These findings are especially important as we prepare for the likelihood that self-testing may soon be a reality in Ontario. The complete document and references can be found here.