Publications & Reports

Potential public health benefits of HIV testing occurring at home in Australia.

Rebecca J Guy, Garrett P Prestage, Andrew Grulich, Martin Holt, Damian P Conway, Muhammad S Jamil, Phillip Keen, Philip Cunningham, David P Wilson
The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney.


In many countries, including Australia, policies have recently changed to support HIV self-testing. The decision has created much debate about the public health benefits of the strategy versus the risks. Self-testing for HIV was approved in the US on the basis that it would facilitate greater HIV testing uptake, despite having a lower sensitivity than laboratory HIV immunoassays. We calculated the frequency of self-testing that would be required among Australian gay and bisexual men at high-risk for there to be a public health benefit (detection of HIV infections that would have otherwise remained undiagnosed). At a population level, if access to HIV self-testing led to men supplementing their usual sexual health check-ups (involving a laboratory HIV immunoassay) with one or more self-tests at home, or self-tests led to untested gay and bisexual men having an HIV test for the first time, there would be a public health benefit. If men replaced their average of one laboratory HIV immunoassay per year with self-testing at home, then three self-tests would be needed to counteract the lower sensitivity of the self-test (so zero infections would be missed). If four self-tests were undertaken then additional infections would be detected (ie, there would be a public health benefit). Additional public health benefits include a reduction in the period of undiagnosed infection, which is known to be a period of relatively high infectiousness.


  • Journal: The Medical Journal of Australia
  • Published: 01/06/2015
  • Volume: 202
  • Issue: 10
  • Pagination: 529-531


Health Issue