eHealth News, South Africa

Online HIV Self-testing Service Proven Effective

A recent study has found that a web-based HIV self-testing (HIVST) delivery service is effective in high-disease burdened areas.

HIV Self-Testing - EHN

A recent study conducted by health logistics entrepreneur from Iyeza Health, Sizwe Nzima, in partnership with the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Desmond Tutu Foundation has found that a web-based HIV self-testing (HIVST) delivery service is effective in high-disease burdened areas.

The study, which was conducted over the course of 2016, focused on evaluating the acceptability of a HIVST delivery service among individuals who are unaware of their seropositivity.

“Self-testing is increasingly recognised for its potential to positively impact HIV detection rates because it enables individuals to test themselves conveniently in private,” said Nzima during his presentation at the recent UCT Health Technology Conference.

“HIVST can have a role to play in reaching previously undiagnosed, hard-to-reach and at-risk groups; helping to achieve the first ’90’ of the ambitious UNAIDS 90-90-90 target, to have 90% of people living with HIV diagnosed by 2020,” continued Nzima.

As part of the study, self-selected participants over the age of 18 logged onto the HST website and viewed text and video study information. They could then request an HIVST – the I-Test HIV Self-test developed by Atomo Diagnostics – and were presented with referral options. Following online consent, a courier was notified to deliver the HIVST to the participant’s address.

Within two weeks of the HIVST delivery a researcher phoned the recipient to carry out an acceptability questionnaire. 205 of the 372 participants were successfully contacted, and of those the majority (97%) reported satisfaction with delivery times, which ranged from two to five days, with seven participants reporting non-delivery. Nearly all participants considered the service to be confidential (94%), with an easily understood video (97%) and written information (96%). The service was rated 4.7 out of 5 with 115 (82%) stating that their experience of self-testing was better than facility-based testing.

“This study demonstrated high acceptability for the web-based HIVST service, with no adverse events reported. Therefore, HIVST available online can complement existing HIV testing strategies by offering a rapid and confidential testing environment,” concluded Nzima.

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