Expanding HIV Testing: WHO’s Call for a Healthier Future

Imagine a world where taking care of your health becomes easier and more accessible. At the 12th International IAS Conference on HIV Science, a major announcement from the World Health Organization (WHO) is paving the way for just that. The WHO is pushing for countries to step up their game in HIV testing, prevention, and treatment by embracing new approaches, including HIV self-testing.

Expanding HIV Testing Photo

A Game-Changing Recommendation

On this significant day, the WHO introduced a fresh perspective on how we can tackle the HIV challenge. They’re suggesting that we expand the use of something called HIV self-testing. It’s like a do-it-yourself health check for HIV. This recommendation comes at a special time when people are recognizing the power of taking care of their own health, which is known as “self-care.”

Bringing Testing Closer to Everyone

HIV self-testing is like a superhero when it comes to making healthcare accessible. It means that people can test themselves for HIV at places like clinics and hospitals, just like how you might do a home pregnancy test. This is super helpful, especially in places where not enough people are getting tested. Believe it or not, even in areas where HIV is a big concern, there are many missed chances for testing, particularly among men.

Bridging the Gap in Testing

You know how important it is to know your HIV status, right? Well, there are millions of people who don’t know their status yet. The WHO’s new recommendation could change that. By offering HIV self-testing at healthcare facilities, we can help more people get tested, even in places where there aren’t enough healthcare workers or testing services.

Inspiring Success Stories

Remember that old saying “proof is in the pudding”? Well, it applies here too. When HIV self-testing was introduced in family planning clinics in Zimbabwe, the number of people tested shot up from just 0.5% to an impressive 64% in just three months. This shows that giving people the option to test themselves can make a huge difference.

Beyond Testing: A New Way to Prevent HIV

The WHO isn’t just stopping at testing. They’re also recommending a smart way to prevent HIV. It’s called pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP for short. PrEP is a powerful tool that can prevent HIV infections, but not everyone can access it easily. The WHO’s idea is to use HIV self-tests as part of PrEP delivery, making it simpler for people to get the protection they need.

Power in Networks: A Stronger Approach

The WHO has another smart strategy up its sleeve – it’s called social network testing. This means involving the people around someone who might be at risk of HIV. By providing information or even self-tests to sexual partners and friends, more people can get tested, and we can make sure no one is left behind.

Looking Ahead: A Brighter Health Future

With these new recommendations, the WHO is pushing countries to think differently about HIV testing. By making self-testing more available and involving friends and family, we can close gaps in testing and ensure everyone can access testing, prevention, and treatment. Dr. Meg Doherty, Director of WHO Global HIV, Hepatitis, and STI Programmes, is excited about these ideas: “Offering people different ways to test for HIV is a great way to reach our goals and reduce HIV cases.”
As we move forward, these recommendations bring us closer to a world where staying healthy is easier for everyone. It’s a step towards a future where we all have the tools to protect ourselves and our communities.


  • Dr. Phillip O.Coffin

    Phillip O. Coffin, M.D., M.I.A., F.A.C.P., is the Director of Substance Use Research at the San Francisco Department of Public Health. He is board-certified in internal medicine, infectious diseases, and addiction medicine; specific foci of Dr. Coffin’s training include general infectious diseases, HIV and viral hepatitis, buprenorphine maintenance, addiction management, and drug poisoning.