HealthDay News–Distribution of HIV self-tests among men who have sex with men (MSM) can increase testing and newly identified infections, according to a study published online Nov 18 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Robin J. MacGowan, MPH, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues conducted a 12-month study involving MSM who reported engaging in anal sex with men in the past year and who never tested positive for HIV. Participants had access to online web-based HIV testing resources and telephone counseling. Participants were randomly assigned to either the control group or a self-testing (ST) group, which received four HIV self-tests, with the option to replenish self-tests.

The researchers found that more ST than control participants reported testing 3 or more times during the trial (76.6% of 1014 ST participants vs 22.0% of 977 control participants). Compared with control participants, ST participants had a higher cumulative number of newly identified infections during the trial (1.9% vs 0.8%), with the largest difference seen in the first 3 months (0.9% vs 0.1%). Thirty-four newly identified infections were reported by ST participants among social network members who used the self-tests.

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“Based on these findings, HIV prevention programs might consider adding an HIV self-testing mail distribution component to their portfolio of HIV prevention services for high-risk populations and providing high-risk MSM additional kits to promote distribution to social network members,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the publishing industry.

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