The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and its devastating effect on healthcare systems — often bringing them to the brink of collapse — may diminish the importance of the HIV epidemic in many countries and subsequently affect its prevention and treatment. The UNAIDS target of 90-90-90 (read HERE) has been accomplished by several nations, although many countries need urgent attention as is the case of Spain, where specialists have recently said that, “[…] as far as HIV-positive people are concerned, there are still some 40,000 patients in Spain who do not yet have an undetectable viral load and around 20,000 infected individuals (14%) who have not yet been diagnosed, which undoubtedly constitutes a group with a high risk of transmission” (read more HERE). We have also reported that men who have sex with men are disproportionately affected by this infection (read HERE).

Does HIV free testing access increase or not an early diagnosis for trans men and trans women?

In this respect, an article published on 11 February earlier this year in The Lancet’s EClinicalMedicine, entitled Impact and acceptability of HIV self-testing for trans men and trans women: a randomised controlled trial and process evaluation in England and Wales, discusses a novel technology that could, in our opinion, aid many countries and institutions looking for a solution for these collectives. The aforementioned study affirms that trans people are a collective with a high incidence of HIV. The article is based on a randomized controlled trial of men, trans men, and trans women “reporting lifetime anal intercourse”, and evaluates whether the offer of free HIV self-testing increases diagnosis.

Sixty-two percent of trans men completed the survey. The authors concluded their study with optimism, finding that “HIVST [HIV self-testing] acceptability was high and indicates easy access to this novel technology may increase HIV testing access for this key population.”

Our Observatory hopes that, even in the midst of the coronavirus healthcare crisis, this new technology –HIV self-testing kits – could be implemented as soon as possible in many countries affected by this increased risk in this particular population.