Saturday , November 27 2021

McGill: Can a smart application encourage HIV self-testing in Canada? | health


HIV self-testing strategies have been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 2016, as they empower people to discover the condition of HIV in their condition. Home-based test kits have not yet been approved for sale in Canada. However, a team at the McGill University Health Center Research Institute and collaborators at the Clinique Médicale Actuel in Montreal evaluated an HIV-free self-test program with a smart application and a tablet called HIVSmart !, among a population at risk (Men who have sex with men). Their findings – Canada-First – were published online this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

"To reach the first 95 of the so-called 95-95-95 targets set by UNAIDS * by 2030, it is imperative that we help identify HIV among those who are unaware of their HIV status." A screening strategy, which has the potential to reach self-diagnosis, "Says Dr. Nietka Pante Pai, lead author of this study and researcher of infectious diseases and immunization in the global health program of the RI-MUHC, a professor of medicine at McGill University. Plug all the gaps in the self-test process; It works with any self-test of approved HIV, allows testing and informs the user in advance. "

"By promoting screening, HIVSmart can help reduce the number of people living with HIV who do not know their status and allow them to start treatment earlier," adds Dr. Réjean Thomas, author of the study, who is also the founder and CEO of Clinique Médicale L & Actuel. & # 39; & # 39; Application such as HIVSmart! Increases access to testing, especially outside major cities, where it is sometimes harder to be checked because of confidentiality problems. "

HIVSmart! Available for your smartphone, tablet or web-based (Android, iPhone, iPad) secret software application developed by Dr. Fent Pye and its team at RI-Muhc. It informs, interprets and stores confidential data but, most importantly, it links to users consulting Or treatment quickly and encourages the user to remain in care. Initially developed with funding from Grand Challenges Canada, HIVSmart! Was evaluated in Montreal thanks to this study funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR).

HIVSmart! Feasibility in Montreal

Between July 2016 and February 2017, the researchers conducted a study of 451 men who had sex with men (often referred to as MSM) between the ages of 18 and 73 years, who introduced themselves in the clinical clinic Actuel to be tested for HIV. They were offered on home-based HIV tests and a tablet equipped with HIVSmart! App. The strategy imitates the test in an unregulated home environment. Using HIVSmart !, participants were led through the self-test process, learning how to interpret and interpret the test, store the results, and receive prompt treatment.

"Our research shows that the application strategy is realistic, acceptable and preferred by an educated MSM urban population in Montreal," says Dr. Fent Pie. "As a strategy, it is suitable for people who prefer to check themselves for convenience in the comfort of private space such as their home, office Or in kiosks. It's empowering! "

Self-testing of HIV for populations at risk

In Canada, the AIDS epidemic is disproportionately represented in key populations, such as MSM, injecting drug users, indigenous populations and immigrants from HIV-endemic countries. About 18% -25% of Canadian MSM populations are unaware of their HIV status, and the number may be relatively high for IDU, indigenous and immigrant populations, highlighting the need for HIV self-testing services.

"At present, we have every means to eliminate HIV.The HIVSmart! App is a way to support patient autonomy," says Dr. Thomas. "Promotion of screening reduces the number of people who are unfamiliar with their HIV status, HIV positive on the treatment quickly, so that their viral baggage becomes undetectable and ultimately eliminate HIV. "

Researchers plan to adapt HIVSmart! Self-testing strategy for many at-risk populations in Canada and worldwide, thus maximizing its impact on public health. HIVSmart! The strategy is also being tested in South Africa.

UNAIDS Fast Track Track to End AIDS by 2030:

  • By 2030, 95% of all people living with HIV knew their HIV status.
  • By 2030, 95% of all people with HIV infection diagnosed will receive prolonged antiretroviral therapy.
  • By 2030, 95% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.

Key findings

The participants' profile

  • 84.7% were educated beyond high school;
  • 79.5% employed persons;
  • 52.5% were examined in the last 6 months.

Main results

  • 99.3% of the participants who tested themselves negatively and received counseling after the test;
  • 0.7% of the participants who were themselves tested and were positive in the lab were associated with the doctor on that day;
  • 98.8% of the participants found the application effective;
  • 94% of the participants were willing to recommend it to a friend or partner.

Ministry of Health Research Institute

– McGill University Health Center


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