A randomized clinical trial published by JAMA Internal Medicine found that the distribution of HIV self-tests is a useful resource for increasing awareness of HIV infection, and for preventing future transmission, specifically among men having sex with men (MSM).

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of HIV self-tests by the frequency of testing, diagnoses of HIV infection, and sexual risk behaviors. Over the course of 12 months, a 2-group randomized clinical trial studied MSM, who were recruited online from March to August 2015. The participants recruited were at least age 18 years, had not previously tested positive for HIV, and were United States residents.

Quarterly online surveys, telephone call notes, and laboratory test results were included in the analyses, and were completed between August 2017 and December 2018.

Participants were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to the control group and a self-testing group (ST). Four HIV self-tests completed the baseline survey. Upon completion of the study, all participants were offered 2 self-tests, and 1 dried blood spot collection kit.

Of 2665 participants, 16.6% had never tested for HIV before enrollment. More ST participants reported testing 3 or more times during the trial than control participants, while the cumulative number of newly identified infections during the trial was twice as high in the ST participant group than the control. In all, the ST participants reported 34 newly identified infections among social network members who used the self-tests.


MacGowan, RJ, Chavez, PR, Borkowf, CB, et al. Effect of internet-distributed HIV self-tests on HIV diagnosis and behavioral outcomes in men who have sex with men. JAMA Intern Med. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.5222.