Impact of Home-Based Testing on Uptake and Knowledge of HIV Status

No significant difference was observed across the 3 study groups.

In South Africa, a significant number of older adults lack the knowledge about their own HIV status even though there is a high rate in the population. One tool which may be able to increase testing in this group is self-taken, home-based testing.

Recently, investigators from the University of Goettingen, in collaboration with the University of Witwatersrand, compared the effectiveness of 3 different home-based testing kits for HIV in older adults in rural Africa.

The data was presented at the 11th International AIDS Society Conference on HIV Science.

For the study, the team of investigators randomized individuals from the “Health and Ageing in Africa: a Longitudinal Study of an INDEPTH Community in South Africa (HAALSI)”.

The study included 3,578 participants who were randomized 1:1:1 to take a home-based HIV rapid test plus counseling, a home delivery of HIV self-testing kits, or both a home-based HIV rapid testing plus counselling and home delivery of HIV self-testing kits.

The investigators than estimated the treatment effects using a modified Poisson regression analysis yielding risk rations.

Findings showed that there was no significant difference observed in testing uptake or knowledge of HIV status across the groups in the study. However, the group who took the self-test kits were more likely to test at home compared to the rapid-test only group.

Additionally, there were no adverse effects observed and depressions rates were seen to decrease by 0.5 to 0.6 points on the CESD-20 scale.

The authors wrote, “Our results indicate that HIV self-testing is a safe and preferred home-based testing option for older adults in rural South Africa, offering another promising policy tool in the effort to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets.”