HIV Self-Test Kits Ineffective Among High-Risk Populations

Armen Hareyan's picture

HIV Self-Test Kits

Some HIV self-test kits are used improperly by high-risk groups, andsuch groups can interpret test results inaccurately, according to astudy published recently in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, Reuters Healthreports. Vernon Lee of the Tan Took Seng hospital in Singapore andcolleagues conducted the study at two major HIV/AIDS centers among 350participants, 88 of whom were known to be HIV-positive, using Abbott Laboratories'Determine HIV 1/2 self-test.


Ninety percent of the study participantsbefore using the test said that the steps were easy to understand andthat the instructions were easy to read and follow. However, theresearchers found that 85% of the participants did not perform all ofthe test steps correctly or were unable to perform the test at all.They also found that as a result, invalid test results occurred in 56%of the cases, according to Reuters Health.

Theresearchers also found that 12% of study participants were not able tointerpret the test results correctly, including 2% who incorrectlyinterpreted positive results and 7% who incorrectly interpretednegative results. The Determine self-test when properly used hadaccuracy rates similar to Abbott's claims, according to the study. Theresearchers said that "blood sampling via finger prick and collectionvia capillary tube was difficult for participants." Lee added that thebiggest issue for participants was collecting an adequate blood sample.

According to the researchers, the participants known to beHIV-positive correctly performed the test and interpreted the resultsmore often, which could indicate their "exposure to and experience withblood tests." They concluded that the "implementation of self-testingshould be reconsidered until kit design and downstream issues have beenadequately addressed." According to the study, 18% of participantscited inconvenience and long wait times as deterrents to receiving anHIV test at health care facilities (Reuters Health, 8/28).

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