Inadequate uptake of testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) remains a primary bottleneck toward universal access to treatment and care, and is an obstacle to realizing the potential of new interventions for preventing HIV infection, including treatment for prevention and preexposure prophylaxis. HIV self-testing offers an approach to scaling up testing that could be high impact, low cost, confidential, and empowering for users. Although HIV self-testing was first considered >20 years ago, it has not been widely implemented. We conducted a review of policy and research on HIV self-testing, which indicates that policy is shifting toward a more flexible approach with less emphasis on pretest counseling and that HIV self-testing has been adopted in a number of settings. Empirical research on self-testing is limited, resulting in a lack of an evidence base upon which to base policy recommendations. Relevant research and investment in programs are urgently needed to enable consideration of developing formalized self-testing programs.
Keywords: HIV prevention; HIV screening; HIV self-testing; literature review; policy.