HIV Testing Strategy Adaptations Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic Attract New Clients

Speeches Shim

Thursday, May 21, 2020

HIV self-testing is an empowering self-care tool, allowing individuals to seek out an HIV test based on their own assessment of risk and need. It also increases options for those who may be reluctant to go to a clinic for an HIV test. To ensure on-going access to HIV testing during COVID-19, USAID’s Healthy Markets project ran an online campaign - "Stay home, HIV self-test"- offering people the option to place an order for a self-test kit by phone, text, or an online ordering platform.

As a result, in April 2020, 800 HIV self-test kits were couriered, posted, or otherwise delivered to those seeking an HIV test. The majority of those ordering a test were young men who have sex with men between the ages of 19-24, of whom 28 percent had never tested for HIV before; and 85 percent of those that ordered a kit said it was online content that prompted them to seek an HIV test.

So What? Making HIV self-testing available during and after the COVID-19 lock-down is an essential measure to ensure that those at risk of HIV, including those that have never tested for HIV before, have continued access to COVID-19 safe HIV testing, antiretroviral therapy and PrEP1.

1 Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is a game-changing preventive medication that can reduce the risk of HIV infection by more than 92 percent, if taken daily, as part of a combination HIV prevention strategy.

Last updated: December 03, 2021

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