Knowing Your Status: Home-Based HIV Testing Kit Could Help Curb Epidemic

Article

Many individuals at-risk of contracting HIV do not test routinely or have never been tested.

A home-based HIV test kit could be an effective strategy to reach heterosexuals who have never been tested, new findings suggest.

Scientists from LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health conducted a survey regarding respondents’ feelings towards a home-based testing kit sent by mail.

There were 470 respondents surveyed as part of the New Orleans arm of the CDC National HIV Behavioral Surveillance of Heterosexuals at increased risk for HIV study in 2013.

The participants were required to be 18 years or older, reside in the New Orleans metropolitan area, able to take the survey in English, and have had sex with an individual of the opposite gender within the past 12 months.

The results of the analysis, published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, show that 85.56% of respondents would be willing to take a home-based test mailed by a research study or health department. Of those willing respondents, 54.19% reported they would return the results back to the provider.

Forty-three percent of participants reported they would prefer to only tell their physician, and 1.7% said they would not reveal the results to anyone.

“In 2014, 24% of new HIV infections were attributed to heterosexual activity,” said lead investigator William Robinson, PhD. “Yet many at-risk individuals do not test routinely or have never been tested.

“Our findings demonstrate that home-based testing could be an effective means to reach some heterosexuals who have never been tested.”

Limitations to the study were that the data were self-reported and the participants were recruited through respondent-drive sampling, according to the authors.

Although further research is needed to evaluate the epidemiologic context and the ethical and logistical considerations, the author concluded that their findings indicated that increased testing is a critical component of controlling the HIV epidemic.

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