HIV self-testing (HIVST) was first proposed as an additional option to standard HIV testing services in the 1980s. By 2015, two years after the first HIVST kit was approved for the American market and the year in which Unitaid invested in the “HIV Self-Testing AfRica (STAR) Initiative,” HIVST remained unexplored with negligible access in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). However, rapid progress had been made. This commentary outlines the interlinked market, regulatory and policy barriers that had inhibited product development and kept HIVST out of LMIC policy. We detail the components of STAR that enabled rapid HIVST scale-up, including critical investments in implementation, research, market forecasting, and engagement with manufacturers and regulators.
AUTHORS: Heather Ingold, Ombeni Mwerinde, Anna Laura Ross, Ross Leach, Elizabeth L Corbett, Karin Hatzold, Cheryl C Johnson, Getrude Ncube, Rose Nyirenda and Rachel C Baggaley