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In Frontiers in immunology ; h5-index 100.0

Background : To assess whether HIV self-testing (HIVST) has a better performance in identifying HIV-infected cases than the facility-based HIV testing (HIVFBT) approach.

Methods : A cross-sectional study was conducted among men who have sex with men (MSM) by using an online questionnaire (including information on sociodemographic, sexual biography, and HIV testing history) and blood samples (for limiting antigen avidity enzyme immunoassay, gene subtype testing, and taking confirmed HIV test). MSM who were firstly identified as HIV positive through HIVST and HIVFBT were compared. Chi-square or Fisher's exact test was used to explore any association between both groups and their subgroups.

Results : In total, 124 MSM HIV cases were identified from 2017 to 2021 in Zhuhai, China, including 60 identified through HIVST and 64 through HIVFBT. Participants in the HIVST group were younger (≤30 years, 76.7% vs. 46.9%), were better educated (>high school, 61.7% vs. 39.1%), and had higher viral load (≥1,000 copies/ml, 71.7% vs. 50.0%) than MSM cases identified through HIVFBT. The proportion of early HIV infection in the HIVST group was higher than in the HIVFBT group, identified using four recent infection testing algorithms (RITAs) (RITA 1, 46.7% vs. 25.0%; RITA 2, 43.3% vs. 20.3%; RITA 3, 30.0% vs. 14.1%; RITA 4, 26.7% vs. 10.9%; all p < 0.05).

Conclusions : The study showed that HIVST has better HIV early detection among MSM and that recent HIV infection cases mainly occur in younger and better-educated MSM. Compared with HIVFBT, HIVST is more accessible to the most at-risk population on time and tends to identify the case early. Further implementation studies are needed to fill the knowledge gap on this medical service model among MSM and other target populations.

Zhou Yi, Huang Shaoli, Cui Mingting, Guo Zhihui, Tang Haotong, Lyu Hang, Ni Yuxin, Lu Ying, Feng Yunlong, Wang Yuyu, Jing Fengshi, Huang Shanzi, Li Jiarun, Xu Yao, Mei Wenhua


HIV self-testing, HIV/AIDS, RITA, facility-based HIV testing, recent infection testing algorithms