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AIDS Research and Treatment
Volume 2014, Article ID 747619, 8 pages
Research Article

Will an Unsupervised Self-Testing Strategy Be Feasible to Operationalize in Canada? Results from a Pilot Study in Students of a Large Canadian University

1Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A1
2Division of Clinical Epidemiology, McGill University and Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A1
3Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 1A2
4McGill University Student Health Services, Montreal, QC, Canada H3A 0G3

Received 12 July 2013; Revised 30 September 2013; Accepted 5 December 2013; Published 9 January 2014

Academic Editor: Bryce D. Smith

Copyright © 2014 Nitika Pant Pai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. A convenient, private, and accessible HIV self-testing strategy stands to complement facility-based conventional testing. Over-the-counter oral HIV self-tests are approved and available in the United States, but not yet in Canada. Canadian data on self-testing is nonexistent. We investigated the feasibility of offering an unsupervised self-testing strategy to Canadian students. Methods. Between September 2011 and May 2012, we recruited 145 students from a student health clinic of a large Canadian university. Feasibility of operationalization (i.e., self-test conduct, acceptability, convenience, and willingness to pay) was evaluated. Self-test conduct was computed with agreement between the self-test performed by the student and the test repeated by a healthcare professional. Other metrics were measured on a survey. Results. Participants were young (median age: 22 years), unmarried (97%), and 47% were out of province or international students. Approximately 52% self-reported a history of unprotected casual sex and sex with multiple partners. Self-test conduct agreement was high (100%), so were acceptability (81%), convenience (99%), and willingness to pay (74%) for self-tests. Concerns included accuracy of self-tests and availability of expedited linkages. Conclusion. An unsupervised self-testing strategy was found to be feasible in Canadian students. Findings call for studies in at-risk populations to inform Canadian policy.