Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

HIV self-testing: The key to controlling the global epidemic

Date:
April 2, 2013
Source:
McGill University Health Centre
Summary:
A new international study has confirmed that self-testing for HIV is effective and could be the answer to controlling the global epidemic. This systematic review shows HIV self-testing removes much of the fear and stigma associated with being tested for the disease. This study could pave the way for early detection and treatment around the world, thereby reducing transmission.

A new international study has confirmed that self-testing for HIV is effective and could be the answer to controlling the global epidemic. This major systematic review, led by the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), shows HIV self-testing removes much of the fear and stigma associated with being tested for the disease.

Related Articles


This study, which is published in PLoS Medicine is the first of its kind and could pave the way for early detection and treatment around the world, thereby reducing transmission.

"Thirty years into the HIV* epidemic, there is no vaccine in sight. 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," 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 one's 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, researchers observed that acceptability (defined as the number of people who self-tested divided by the number who consented to self-test) was very high for both self-testing strategies. They also found evidence that people preferred self-testing to facility-based testing and oral self-testing to blood-based self-testing. "The preference was largely driven by the fact 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," explains Dr. Pant Pai. "A lot of people also wanted to take the oral self-test home to test their partners."

Dr. Pant Pai's project is supported by a Stars in Global Health award from Grand Challenges Canada, which is funded by the Government of Canada. "Canada has a deep pool of talent dedicated to pursuing bold ideas that can have big impact in the developing world," adds Dr. Peter A. Singer, CEO of Grand Challenges Canada. "Grand Challenges Canada is proud to support innovators like Dr. Pant Pai because they will make a difference to many lives."

Dr. Pant Pai and colleagues urge policy makers everywhere to look at the proven results of supervised and unsupervised self-testing, and think how best to put these strategies into practice in their own countries. "We have, as a society, made great progress with biomedical tools, drugs and strategies, but we haven't conquered HIV-related stigma and perceived discrimination. The time is now right to tailor strategies to suit the preferences and lifestyles of patients with a view to expand access."

* Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

*2012 UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University Health Centre. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nitika Pant Pai, Jigyasa Sharma, Sushmita Shivkumar, Sabrina Pillay, Caroline Vadnais, Lawrence Joseph, Keertan Dheda, Rosanna W. Peeling. Supervised and Unsupervised Self-Testing for HIV in High- and Low-Risk Populations: A Systematic Review. PLoS Medicine, 2013; 10 (4): e1001414 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001414

Cite This Page:

McGill University Health Centre. "HIV self-testing: The key to controlling the global epidemic." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130402182638.htm>.
McGill University Health Centre. (2013, April 2). HIV self-testing: The key to controlling the global epidemic. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130402182638.htm
McGill University Health Centre. "HIV self-testing: The key to controlling the global epidemic." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130402182638.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins