AIDS Concern launches HIV self-test project to increase
access to HIV testing
Data from the Hong Kong Department of Health shows that the HIV testing rate in Hong Kong is far too low.One of the problems is that many people do not want to go to an HIV clinic, reporting their wish for more privacy and convenience for HIV testing.
Following pilot programs on self-testing with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, there’re 3 HIV self-test kits available for sale in AIDS Concern. This will be the first NGO self-testing service in Hong Kong and one of the first in Asia.
Andrew Chidgey, Chief Executive of AIDS Concern said:
“We know that some people are uncomfortable to go to a clinic to get HIV testing. By scaling up access to HIV self-testing we can provide an important option for people who want to be able to do an HIV test in the privacy of their own home. The World Health Organisation strongly supports the introduction of self-testing in addition to clinic-based services. We hope to encourage people who have never tested and people who need to test more often to take control of their health.”
The latest Department of Health PRISM survey data shows that only 53% of gay and bisexual men have tested for HIV in the last year – whereas the recommendation is that they should test at least once a year. Meanwhile, many heterosexual men and women diagnosed with HIV are being diagnosed late, meaning their health is compromised and they pose risk of infection to others.
Earlier HIV testing is essential to get infected people onto treatment to protect their health and prevent further infections.
In order understand the feasibility of self-testing in Hong Kong, AIDS Concern has conducted two pilot studies on self-test kits in collaboration with the Chinese University of Hong Kong which both show interest from people at risk of HIV in using HIV self-testing.
One of the pilot programs was to give an HIV self-test to gay and bisexual men with counseling support.
Dr Johnson Wang of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said
“We offered HIV self-testing service to 653 gay and bisexual men in the pilot program,637 (97.5%) of them accepted the HIV self-testing kit sent by mail/express; 329 (50.4%) performed HIV self-testing; 77 used our HIV self-testing service twice within one year.
Among HIV self-test users, 89.6-100% of them rated various aspect of the HIVST-online service (e.g., delivery of the HIVST kits, appointment making with HIVST-online administrators, performance of the HIVST-online administrators) as “satisfactory/very satisfactory”.
Dr Wang also reported that positive comments have also been obtained from the users to highlight the advantages of the service in removing barriers to testing:
“It is great that I can pick my convenient time and location to perform HIV testing. I would very much like to use it again in future.”
“Some local members are afraid of showing up (for HIV testing). This service can help them.”
Five HIV self-testing users were found to be HIV positive, all of them received immediate counseling support and were linked to care and treatment.
In response to the positive feedback AIDS Concern has launched Self-Test Hong Kong.
Self-Test Hong Kong will provide more options for people to do HIV testing with support services. People can purchase the quality finger prick blood test or oral fluid test through the AIDS Concern website or at the AIDS Concern health centre in Jordan.
It is already possible for Hong Kong people to buy a self-test online through some websites like Taobao and in some pharmacies. However, the public reports concern about the quality of such tests and in pharmacies they are often not on display. So, AIDS Concern is making good quality self-testing kits available. It is a self-finance NGO project where the fee paid for the test will cover the costs of the service.
3 self-test kits AIDS Concern currently available are:
- BioSURE finger-prick self-test:
$250 (From AIDS Concern Jordan Center)
$280 (Online purchase)
$870 (Yearly Subscription – Purchase 4 test kits in one go at a discounted price)
- Oraquick HIV self-test, oral fluid test, World Health Organisation pre-qualified:
$300 (From the AIDS Concern Jordan Centre)
$330 (Online purchase)
- Doctoreyes Syphilis Antibodies Test
$228 (From the AIDS Concern Jordan Centre)
$258 (Online purchase)
For more information please visit: https://aidsconcern.org.hk/en/self_testing-finger_prick/
For enquiry, please send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 2864 1324.
AIDS Concern was established in 1990 as the first non-government charity organisation committed to the service of AIDS care in Hong Kong. Our vision is to see Hong Kong with ZERO new HIV infections, ZERO stigma for people living with HIV and ZERO AIDS deaths. AIDS Concern will lead social change by individuals, organisations and society to achieve TRIPLE ZERO, to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS and eliminate stigma for people living with HIV.