Reaching People Where They Are with HIV Self-Testing
- Reaching People Where They Are with HIV Self-Testing
- Bridging Gaps in Access to HIV Testing During COVID-19
- Reaching People Who Could Benefit Most from HIV Self-Testing
- Building on Lessons Learned to Expand Access to HIV Self-Testing
Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) is a bold new federal initiative that aims to reduce new HIV infections in the United States by 90 percent by 2030. The initiative is beginning with a targeted infusion of new resources, technology, and expertise to fight HIV in the communities that are now hardest hit by the HIV epidemic.
To help achieve the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative’s goal of increasing the number of people who know their HIV status, CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine medical care, with certain groups potentially benefitting from more frequent testing. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, access to traditional, in-person healthcare services, including HIV testing, became more limited. The pandemic, however, did not stop HIV transmission—or diminish the benefits of knowing one’s HIV status. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt in-person HIV services, it became clear that HIV self-testing would be a critical way to bridge gaps and ensure people could get tested for HIV—while complying with social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
CDC was at the forefront of recognizing the potential of HIV self-testing during the pandemic. In February 2021, using EHE and Minority HIV/AIDS Fund investments, CDC launched a project with the goal of mailing 100,000 HIV self-tests to members of communities most affected by HIV. CDC had previously funded ground-breaking research, capacity-building assistance providers, community-based organizations, and health departments to evaluate and implement self-testing, but this effort was the first national, direct-to-consumer distribution project where anyone, anywhere in the U.S., could order a rapid HIV self-test at no cost. The success of the project shows what is possible when innovative strategies like direct-to-consumer distribution of self-tests are designed to reach people who could benefit most from HIV prevention and care. Not only do these strategies maximize the reach and effectiveness of HIV prevention tools, but they empower people to know their HIV status and take control of their health, as well.
Disclaimer: These stories do not represent endorsements by CDC of any organization or company mentioned.