August 15, 2011
More Research that supports OTCRT
There are some very passionate HIV/AIDS activists who are very sincere about wanting to do the right thing when it comes to stopping the spread of HIV - except for when it comes to HIV-testing. They state that over-the-counter sale of HIV tests (OTCRT) should not be considered. What these people are doing is denying the fact that the world has changed. Given the fact that stigma and intrusion of the current testing system ("structural barriers", as they are called in the research studies), combined with the heavy reliance on the internet for information, there are significant numbers of people who have never been tested who say they would if OTCRT were available. I commented on one such study in May. Over the weekend, a colleague sent me another study abstract that showed similar results. In this one, among the never-tested men who have sex with men (NTMSM) who were also likely to test positive for HIV, 85.6% were likely to use otcrt if one were available.
85.6% seems to me to be a pretty significant number, especially when it comes to one of the groups (NTMSM) that is a top priority for testing. In an industry that talks about empowerment, and claims to be driven by facts, not ideology, this kind of study would seem to be something that should not be ignored. My hope is that, over time, as people let this idea integrate into the brain, the call for otcrt will become a part of the campaign.