HIV self-testing

 

Testing is an essential part of the HIV cascade of care and can be a gateway to treatment, prevention, harm reduction and other support services. People living with HIV can only be linked to treatment, care and support services if they have been diagnosed. Once a person is diagnosed, effective treatment will enable them to live a long and healthy life, to have HIV-negative children, and not have to worry about passing on HIV to their sex partners. People who test negative and are at ongoing risk for HIV can be linked to prevention and other services as necessary.

An estimated 13% of people living with HIV in Canada do not know their status. We need ways to expand testing opportunities for all people at risk for HIV, including those who are not being reached by existing strategies. Self-testing provides another testing option and may help overcome some of the barriers to testing that people experience, such as stigma, privacy concerns, or travel and wait times. The first HIV self-test for use in Canada was licensed by Health Canada in November 2020.

This page contains resources to help frontline service providers learn more about HIV self-testing.

Service provider resources

General information

  • HIV self-testing ­– CATIE fact sheet
    This fact sheet includes information about how the self-test works, the window period for the test, the accuracy and acceptability of the test, what happens after a person gets a positive or negative result, and the role that service providers can play in supporting people who take a self-test.

Client resources

Programming resources

  • Peer distribution of HIV self-test kitsProgramming Connection evidence brief
    An HIV self-testing program in Uganda trained men who have sex with men (MSM) to distribute HIV self-tests to their social and sexual networks. The program included training on how to use the HI­­V self-test, counsel people who take the test, and link people who tested positive to HIV confirmatory testing and HIV treatment.

Research

  • CDC study finds that HIV self-test kits increase testing frequency and uncover infectionsCATIE News
    Scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a one-year clinical trial with about 2,600 HIV-negative gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM). All participants had access to telephone counselling and online HIV testing resources that identified where HIV testing could be done. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: access to self-test kits or no self-test. Participants who received self-test kits had higher rates of testing and twice as many participants in this group tested positive for HIV.