Strategies that allow consumers to control when, where, and how they test for HIV, viral hepatitis, or sexually transmitted infections (STIs) play an increasingly important role in expanding and ensuring access to testing for these infections.
Consumers experience a variety of barriers to accessing testing services such as travel distance to testing providers, hours of operation of the clinics or programs offering testing, competing priorities such as work or school, lack of culturally competent providers, stigma, and cost.
The “Diagnose” pillar of CDC’s Ending the Epidemic initiative highlights the value of leveraging testing strategies and test technologies, in new and creative ways, to make HIV testing easier for consumers to access and promote earlier diagnosis and linkage to care.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant disruptions in the public health response to HIV, specifically HIV testing. As a result, in May 2020, CDC issued guidance to programs experiencing a disruption in HIV testing and PrEP clinical services. As part of this guidance, CDC encourages programs to use self-testing via a home specimen self-collection kit or an oral swab-based test whenever lab visits are unfeasible. Innovative strategies that provide at-home testing work to make HIV prevention services equitable and provide an opportunity for vulnerable populations to receive better health outcomes.