WHO Issues Guidelines for HIV Self-Testing, Partner Notification

November 29, 2016

Noting persisting lags in HIV diagnoses, particularly among men, adolescents and people -- including men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs, and individuals who earn income through sex work -- who are marginalized by discriminatory laws and policies, the World Health Organization today released guidelines to help nations and programs use self-testing for HIV as an additional tool to increase the numbers of people who know if they are infected with the virus. Self tests, which allow a individuals to discover their HIV status in their own setting, have improved and been proven user friendly in recent years, according to the guidelines. The guidelines also recommend that services to notify partners of people with HIV should be routinely offered as part of a public health approach to delivering services.

The WHO Guidelines on HIV Self-Testing and Partner Notification Supplement to Consolidated Guidelines on HIV Testing Services reviews strategies, methods of delivery, and considerations for programs to weigh, and strongly recommend extending access to self-tests, citing findings that the mode of testing is acceptable, affordable, and that the benefits of access to the intervention outweigh any potential harms.

The recommendations include confirmatory testing for both positive and negative results as well as links to either immediate antiretroviral treatment or HIV prevention services. The WHO recommends that countries and providers examine the needs, challenges and opportunities of their settings to determine effective delivery mediums, which can include through community health workers, facilities and vending machines.

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