HIV self-testing has the potential to significantly increase HIV testing uptake among at-risk populations, particularly those who are reluctant to get tested at health facilities. Fear of stigma and lack of confidentiality can pose barriers to HIV testing, but this may change with this new HIV testing option.
HIV self-testing (HIV ST) has been associated with certain benefits such as increased access to testing and earlier diagnosis for people living with HIV, experiences of convenience, autonomy, and privacy when testing. This is important especially for individuals who don’t use the existing HTS strategies due to avoidance or lack of opportunity to make contact with health care providers where HIV testing is offered. Key populations (including men who have sex with men, transgender people, sex workers & people who inject drugs) may benefit from self-testing, as might members of the general population (including health workers, couples and partners, sero-discordant partners, adolescents and re-testers) in areas with a high prevalence of HIV.
In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the HIV self-testing guidelines thus paving the way for countries and programs to adopt them and develop country-specific self-testing guidelines.