Low knowledge and anecdotal use of unauthorized online HIV self-test kits among attendees at a street-based HIV rapid testing programme in Spain

Int J Infect Dis. 2014 Aug;25:196-200. doi: 10.1016/j.ijid.2014.03.1379. Epub 2014 Jun 19.


Objectives: The objectives of this study were to estimate the percentage of potential users who know that unauthorized HIV self-tests can be purchased online and the percentage of those who have already used them, and to determine socio-demographic and behavioural correlates.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was employed to collect data from attendees at a street-based HIV testing programme. Logistic regression for rare events was performed.

Results: Of the 3340 participants, 5.3% (95% confidence interval (CI) 4.5-6.0%) had knowledge of self-tests being sold online and 7.5% (95% CI 6.6-8.5%) thought they existed but had never seen them; only 0.6% (95% CI 0.3-0.9%) had ever used one. Knowing that self-tests are sold online (odds ratio (OR) 3.6, 95% CI 2.4-5.4) and using them (OR 7.3, 95% CI 2.2-23.8) were associated with having undergone more than two previous HIV tests. Use was also associated with being neither Spanish nor Latin American (OR 3.8, 95% CI 1.2-12.0) and with having a university degree (OR 0.2, 95% CI 0.1-0.7).

Conclusions: At the time of the study, the impact on the population of issues related to the use of unauthorized tests was very low. However, media coverage following the approval of self-testing in the USA might have changed the situation.

Keywords: Early diagnosis; HIV; Self-testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Population Surveillance
  • Risk Factors
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sexual Partners
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Young Adult