HIV Self-Test Kits Ineffective Among High-Risk Populations, Study Says
Some HIV self-test kits are used improperly by high-risk groups, and such groups can interpret test results inaccurately, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, Reuters Health reports. Vernon Lee of the Tan Took Seng hospital in Singapore and colleagues conducted the study at two major HIV/AIDS centers among 350 participants, 88 of whom were known to be HIV-positive, using Abbott Laboratories' Determine HIV 1/2 self-test. Ninety percent of the study participants before using the test said that the steps were easy to understand and that the instructions were easy to read and follow. However, the researchers found that 85% of the participants did not perform all of the test steps correctly or were unable to perform the test at all. They also found that as a result, invalid test results occurred in 56% of the cases, according to Reuters Health.
The researchers also found that 12% of study participants were not able to interpret the test results correctly, including 2% who incorrectly interpreted positive results and 7% who incorrectly interpreted negative results. The Determine self-test when properly used had accuracy rates similar to Abbott's claims, according to the study. The researchers said that "blood sampling via finger prick and collection via capillary tube was difficult for participants." Lee added that the biggest issue for participants was collecting an adequate blood sample.
According to the researchers, the participants known to be HIV-positive correctly performed the test and interpreted the results more often, which could indicate their "exposure to and experience with blood tests." They concluded that the "implementation of self-testing should be reconsidered until kit design and downstream issues have been adequately addressed." According to the study, 18% of participants cited inconvenience and long wait times as deterrents to receiving an HIV test at health care facilities (Reuters Health, 8/28).
The study abstract is available online.