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Can a Smart Application Encourage HIV Testing in Canada?

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended HIV self-tests strategies since 2016, authorizing people to find out their HIV status in their favor. Home test kits must be approved for sale in Canada. However, the research team at McGill University Health Center (RI-MUHC) and Clinique Médicale d'Actuel in Montreal assessed HIV testing without using smartphone and tablet applications called HIVSmart! risky population (people who have sex with men). The findings of their studies – the first Canadian – were released this week on the Internet Journal of Medical Internet Investigation.

"To reach the first 95 so-called 95-95-95 targets set by UNAIDS * by 2030, it is necessary to help detect HIV in those who are unconscious of HIV status. A screening strategy that has the potential to reach undiagnosed HIV Testing is only testing, "says Dr. Nitika Pant Pai, lead author of this study and researcher of infectious diseases and immunity in the Global Health Program RI-MUHC and an associate professor of medicine at McGill University. "HIVSmart! removes all gaps in the self-assessment process; works with all approved HIV tests, facilitates testing and proactively informs the user. "

"By promoting screening, HIVSmart can help reduce the number of people living with HIV who do not know their status and allow them to begin treatment early," says Dr. Réjean Thomas, co-author of the study, who is also the founder and CEO of Clinique Médicale L & # 39; Actuel, & # 39; An application such as HIVSmart! increases test availability, especially outside major cities, where it is sometimes harder to test for confidentiality issues. "

HIVSmart! is available for a confidential smartphone, tablet, or web app application (Android, iPhone, and iPad) developed by Dr. Pant Pai and her team at RI-MUHC. Informs, interprets, and stores data confidential but, most importantly, provides users with quick counseling or care and encourages the customer to stay in care. Initially it was developed with funding from Grand Challenges Canada, HIVSmart! was evaluated in Montreal thanks to this study funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).

HIVSmart! feasibility in Montreal

Between July 2016 and February 2017, researchers conducted a survey of 451 men who had sex with men (sometimes referred to as MSMs) between the ages of 18 and 73 who were introduced to Clinique Médicale Actuel da they would have been tested for HIV. They are offered HIV Test in the home and PVC tablets equipped with HIVSmart! App. The strategy has imitated testing in an unmanaged home environment. Using HIVSmart! The participants were guided through the self-assessment process, learned how to perform and interpret the test, store the results and quickly worry.

"Our study shows that HIVSmart! The application strategy is feasible, accepted and preferred by the educated, urban MSM population in Montreal," says Pant Pai. "As a strategy, it suits individuals who like to test their comfort in the comfort of private space, such as home, office or kiosks. It's Empowerment!"

HIV self-assessment for risky populations

In Canada, the HIV epidemic is disproportionately present in key populations, such as MSM, drug injectors, indigenous populations, and immigrants from HIV endemic countries. About 18 to 25 percent of Canadian MSM populations are unaware of their HIV-positive status, and the number may be proportionally higher for IDUs, indigenous populations and immigrants, which emphasizes the need for available HIV self-assessment services.

"We currently have all the means to eradicate HIV. HIVSmart! The application is a way of supporting patient autonomy," says Dr. Thomas. "Promoting screening reduces the number of people who do not know their HIV status, places people with HIV positive on treatment so their viral therapy becomes unmanageable and ultimately eradicates HIV."

Researchers plan to adjust HIVSmart! a self-assessment strategy for many risky populations in Canada and around the globe, maximizing the impact of public health. HIVSmart! the strategy is also tested in South Africa.

* UNAIDS's Strategy for the Rapid Aids Strategy to Combat AIDS by 2030:

By 2030, 95% of all people living with HIV will know about their HIV status.

By 2030, 95% of all people diagnosed with HIV infection will receive permanent antiretroviral therapy.

By 2030, 95% of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.


Profile of the participant

  • 84.7% are educated out of high school;
  • 79.5% they were employed;
  • 52.5% has been tested in the last 6 months.

Main results

  • 99.3% participants who have tested negative and received advice themselves after their test;
  • 0.7% Participants who were self-tested positive and positively confirmed by labs were related to a physician on the same day;
  • 98.8% the participant found the application useful;
  • 94% Participants are willing to recommend it to friends or partners.

About the study

Pant Pai N, Smallwood M, Desjardins L, Goyette A, Birkas KG, Vassal AF, Joseph L, Thomas R

Unhappy optimized Smart Automated HIV Automation Program in Montreal, Canada: Cross-sectional Study

J Med Internet Res 2018; 20 (11): e10258

DOI: 10.2196 / 10.258

PMID: 30465709

This work was funded by the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) and Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS).

Contact Media:

Julie Robert
McGill University Health Center
Julie [dot] Robert [at] MUHC [dot] McGill [dot] ca

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