Gay men in New York City who test positive for HIV through self-test kits typically promptly seek laboratory testing to confirm the result and get linked to care for the virus, aidsmap reports. A recent study of behavior patterns associated with the use of self-test kits also found that their $40 price tag likely puts them out of reach of various high-risk demographics.
Through a New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene program staff will reach out to locals who test positive for HIV and offer to contact their recent sexual partners and refer them to testing services.
Staff at this program interviewed 8,032 individuals newly diagnosed through a lab test between January 2013 and August 2016. A total of 127 (2 percent) of them reported having previously used an HIV self-test. Two-thirds of these individuals reported testing positive on that self-test, while the remainder said that the last time they used such a test they tested negative for the virus.
Of those who provided an approximate date of the last time they self-tested, 89 percent of those who tested positive on that test proceeded to get a lab HIV test within one month. Thirty-nine percent of those who said their last self-test was negative for the virus got a lab test within a month of that result.
Ninety-one percent of those interviewed who said they self-tested were linked to HIV medical care within three months of the lab test confirming their positive diagnosis, compared with 81 percent of those who did not use self-testing.
Those who self-tested were more likely than those who did not self-test to: be male (96 percent vs. 78 percent), be men who have sex with men (MSM) (92 percent vs. 58 percent), report having anal sex during the 12 months prior to their HIV diagnosis (58 percent vs. 34 percent), be white (46 percent vs. 16 percent), have a college degree or more education (67 percent vs. 35 percent) and live in ZIP codes with medium to high income levels (51 percent vs. 44 percent).
The researchers stated that these findings support their conclusion that the $40 cost of self-testing is prohibitive for many people at high risk of HIV, including young Black MSM and Latinos.
To read the aidsmap article, click here.
To read the study abstract, click here.