As part of ongoing efforts to stem the spread of HIV, the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) earlier this month began delivering 2,500 HIV self-testing kits to hard-to-reach men in Côte d’Ivoire at high risk of contracting the virus.
Men in Côte d’Ivoire – as in many nations – are significantly less likely to be tested for HIV than women. Many men fear the consequences a positive test would have on their social and economic status, far more than they are concerned about their health. Public health officials, meanwhile, encourage testing for HIV and an immediate start of treatment to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. The World Health Organization says that up to 80 percent of men in some African nations have never been tested for HIV and around the world and it estimates that only 75 percent of people with HIV know their status.
CCP is giving hard-to-reach at-risk men an opportunity to take a saliva-based HIV self-test at home.
With support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through USAID, CCP’s Breakthrough ACTION project is conducting a pilot program to deliver self-testing kits to men in three regions of the West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire. Self-testing is a convenient – and, above all, private – way for men to learn of their HIV status, the first step toward treatment. Self-testing is a relatively new approach to HIV testing. Kits have been made available in several countries across southern Africa where HIV prevalence is the highest.