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Mailing free home HIV tests helps detect more infections

Lindsey Tanner
Associated Press

Mailing free home HIV tests to high-risk men offers a potentially better strategy for detecting infections than usual care.

That’s according to a U.S. government study that resulted in many more infections found – including among friends with whom recipients shared extra kits.

A patient uses an oral test for HIV, inside the HIV Testing Room at the Penn Branch of the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles, in southeast Washington.

The yearlong experiment recruited 2,600 men from online social network and music sites. Those who signed up were sent four free test kits but could order more. Many did and shared them.

Overall, 25 infections were detected in the self-testing group, versus 11 in men who just got links to local services. Even more infections – 34 – were detected among friends of those who shared tests.

Over 70% of participants who learned of positive results sought treatment.

The study was published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.