Home Dating apps Self-administration can help reduce barriers to HIV testing

Self-administration can help reduce barriers to HIV testing

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According to the most recent CDC report Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, publicly funded HIV self-test kits distributed directly to potential consumers can help overcome barriers to testing and facilitate access to HIV-related care services.

The report released this week points out that in 2019, a disproportionate 80% of HIV transmission was due to people not knowing their HIV status or not receiving regular care, despite the recommendation of the 2006 CDC annual screening among at-risk populations. one of which is men who have sex with men (MSM).

One potential solution is self-testing, and coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the TakeMeHome partnership aimed to reach out to those seeking home care options for reasons such as lack of access to testing. clinics and stay-at-home orders that restricted traditional testing services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted HIV testing services, people have reported not being able to access HIV testing services and hundreds of thousands of HIV tests have been either delayed or ignored,” notes the report.

For the period of March 31, 2020 to March 31, 2021, 17 state and local health departments participated by reaching out to gay, bisexual and other MSM first through gay dating apps and by offering rapid and free HIV self-tests and following up with a survey 10 days after sending the self-test kits. Thirty-six percent of participants said they had never been tested for HIV and 56% said their most recent test was over a year old.

A total of 5,325 kits were mailed to 4,904 people – 67% self-identified as cisgender men and 6% transgender, non-binary, or genderqueer – during this first year of TakeMeHome, and 17% responded to the follow-up survey. Most were aged 25 to 34 (39%) or 18 to 24 (30%), were ethnically white (38%) or Hispanic / Latino (26%), and were 1 (34%) or at least 3 (26%) sexual partners in the past year.

Analysis of the follow-up survey data also revealed the following:

  • 86% reported a recent risk of HIV
  • 73% reported having had sexual contact between men
  • 71% heard about TakeMeHome through a gay dating app
  • 34% said they used TakeMeHome due to decrease in HIV testing due to pandemic
  • 10% have had tests for other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • 8% used pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP)
  • 90% would recommend TakeMeHome to a friend
  • 63% liked the convenience of the program
  • 46% liked the confidentiality the program allowed

The results were also positive for people who said they had never been tested for HIV: 8% used the test for other STIs and 6% used PrEP.

TakeMeHome has since expanded nationwide and Puerto Rico, with over 43,000 orders including over 76,000 HIV self-test kits from February through July 2021 alone.

“HIV self-testing is a proven intervention that represents a paradigm shift in testing practices and is a key strategy to support the goals of the End the HIV Epidemic in the United States initiative,” concludes the report. “The distribution of HIV self-tests addresses many privacy concerns, and this program has demonstrated, among the subset that provided follow-up data, that the self-test serves as a gateway to additional prevention services. HIV and STIs for people who need them. “

To continue moving forward in this space, the authors wrote, future marketing must target minority groups disproportionately affected by HIV and increase engagement with health services in areas with larger numbers of affected populations. disproportionately.

Reference

Hecht J, Sanchez T, Sullivan PS, DiNenno EA, Cramer N, Delaney KP. Increase access to HIV testing through direct distribution to consumers of HIV self-tests – United States, March 31, 2020 – March 30, 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021; 70 (38): 1322-1325. doi: 10.15585 / mmwr.mm7038a2


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