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A short technical update on self‑testing for HIV

HIV self‑testing is a process whereby a person who wants to know his or her HIV status collects a specimen, performs a test and interprets the test result in private. HIV self‑testing does not provide a definitive diagnosis; instead, it is a screening test for the presence of HIV ‑ 1/2 antibodies or the HIV‑1 p24 antigen. Any positive HIV result must be confirmed by a health worker in accordance with national testing algorithms.

HIV self‑testing enables individuals to test themselves for HIV in private. By providing an opportunity for people to test themselves discreetly and conveniently, HIV self‑testing may provide people who are not currently reached by existing HIV testing and counselling (HTC) services with infomation about their HIV status.

There are a number of HIV rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) available, but at the moment, only one RDT specifically packaged for self‑testing has the approval of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This technical update was prepared in November 2013 in collaboration with key experts, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS). Its primary objective is to synthesize experiences, research and policies on HIV self‑testing to inform stakeholders who are considering or already implementing HIV self‑testing. (2013)

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