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HIV self-testing: The key to controlling the global epidemic
Date:4/2/2013

y a societal problem: HIV stigma and perceived discrimination, says Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, who is the first and corresponding author of the study, a clinical researcher at the RI-MUHC and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at McGill University.

According to UNAIDS*, 50 per cent of people living with HIV worldwide are unaware of their HIV status and about 2.5 million people become infected every year. Dr. Pant Pai firmly believes that access to an HIV self-test linked to expedited counselling systems will help expand access to screening and reduce judgement and perceived attitudes around HIV testing. Self-tests are performed in oral fluid samples from the gum lining of the mouth in the privacy of ones home. They are non-invasive, convenient, ensure confidentiality and can provide results within 20 minutes. The results are self-interpreted however, and require confirmation at a medical clinic if positive.

There is a lot of global momentum in favour of HIV self-testing with several countries and health networks advocating their use. Several studies have been conducted to determine the best methods of making a self-test with linked counselling and referral services available in various African, North American and European settings. Dr. Pant Pai and her colleagues decided to look at the global evidence on self-testing strategies based on acceptability, feasibility and accuracy and success with linkages to care.

They examined 21 worldwide studies and found that two distinct self-testing strategies have been tried: supervised self-testing (self-testing and counselling aided by a health-care professional), and unsupervised self-testing (self-testing performed without any help but with counselling available by phone or internet). Most of the data came from studies carried out in high-income settings including the United States, Canada, Spain and the Netherlands, as well as Kenya, Singapore, Malawi and India.

Across the various studies, researche
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Contact: Isabelle Malbuf
Isabelle.malboeuf@muhc.mcgill.ca
514-843-1560
McGill University Health Centre
Source:Eurekalert

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