OBJECTIVES: With persisting high numbers of new HIV diagnoses in Europe, HIV testing remains an important aspect of HIV prevention. The traditional centralized and medicalized HIV testing approach has been complemented with newly developed and evaluated non-traditional approaches. Two important factors guided this process: technological innovation and empowerment of the patient.
METHODS: We present a matrix to develop an HIV testing approach, and elaborate on three commonly used ones: community based testing, self-testing, and self-sampling. Despite non-traditional HIV testing approaches, barriers for testing remain. A potential disadvantage for users is the risk for false-reactive test results. As users receive an orientation test result, a reactive result should be confirmed. Another issue is the window phase, which is longer for some orientation tests compared to a traditional, laboratory-based test.
RESULTS: Future implementation of non-traditional HIV testing approaches will depend on legal frameworks throughout Europe. Community testing centers may additionally improve empowerment of key populations by expanding their portfolio to testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Community engagement and ownership may imply a shrinking role for health care providers, but they remain crucial actors for personalized information, counselling and referral to specialized HIV-care for many people.
CONCLUSIONS: A highly effective HIV testing strategy to reduce undiagnosed people living with HIV in Europe is needed. Any approach, chosen according to the principles outlined in this paper, should reach the right people, diagnose them in the most accurate way, and optimize linkage to care.
- Journal Article