HIV Self-Testing Africa (STAR)

About 20 million people do not know that they are living with HIV-infection and scaling up HIV testing is fundamental to the control of HIV-infection. Dr Miriam Taegtmeyer, Reader in Infectious Diseases, and Professor Cowan, are partners on the large HIV Self-Testing Africa project (STAR), led by LSHTM (Professor Liz Corbett) and funded by UNITAID. STAR is evaluating the expansion of HIV self- testing in Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Currently self-testing is being conducted using oral fluid samples although work to evaluate blood based tests is starting through additional funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. A trial of pricing and willingness to pay is in the advanced stages of planning.

Professor Miriam Taegtmeyer and Professor Frances Cowan are key partners in the, UNITAID funded, STAR initiative which aims to stimulate the market for HIV self-test kits through supporting countries in Southern Africa to scale-up self-testing.

LSTM developed and rigorously evaluated innovative test delivery models in Malawi and Zimbabwe that catalysed a supportive regulatory, policy and funding environment both regionally and globally. Seventy-seven countries now have HIV self-testing policies including 23 in Africa.

Availability of HIV self-testing has resulted in rapid scale-up with increased testing coverage particularly among vulnerable, underserved and key populations worldwide. STAR has provided 4,500,000 HIV self-tests across Southern Africa (>2,000,000 for STAR research) and catalysed procurement of another 8,000,000 from major funders. Four manufacturers now have WHO pre-qualified HIV self-test kits available on the world market.