HIV Self-Test Empowers Patients

HIV Self-Test Empowers Patients

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Nitika Pant Pai, MD, MPH, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine
McGill University Health Centre

Roni Deli-Houssein
Research Assistant – Student
McGill University Health Centre

Sushmita Shivkumar
M.D. Candidate 2016
McGill University

Caroline Vadnais
Research Manager
McGill University Health Centre Research Institute

Worldwide it is estimated that as many as six in 10 HIV-infected individuals don’t know their HIV status and don’t seek testing. To increase awareness, knowledge and access to a convenient HIV screening option, and to expedite connections to treatment in nations hardest hit by the disease, Dr. Nitika Pant Pai and medical staff at McGill University and McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, developed a strategy based on the synergy of the Internet, an oral fluid–based self-test and a cell phone. This integrated approach included HIV education, an online test to determine HIV risk level, instructions for testing and interpreting the results, and confidential resources for referrals to trained counselors, support and healthcare workers. The tailored smartphone application, developed on the basis of original research published in multiple Open Access journals, helps circumvent the social visibility of testing in a healthcare facility. The application could alleviate fears of stigma and discrimination and make HIV detection simple and confidential.