Launching the largest HIV self-testing program

an illustration of a hand handing a red HIV ribbon to another hand

Following a successful pilot program in 2020–2021, Rollins researchers are preparing to launch the largest nationwide mailed HIV self-testing program in US history. Together TakeMeHome (TTMH) will deliver 1 million tests across the country, funded with $8.3 million for the first of a five-year CDC award.

HIV testing is a proven strategy for HIV prevention and a key first step in the continuum of care, yet still, too many people are unaware of their HIV status. TTMH addresses common barriers to testing, such as stigma, privacy concerns, cost, and lack of access to HIV clinics by offering free HIV self-tests through mail delivery.

“Testing is a critical entry point for HIV prevention and treatment services, especially for people most affected by HIV,” says Travis Sanchez, professor of epidemiology and executive director for the program. “Together TakeMeHome leverages proven HIV prevention strategies by allowing people to get tests delivered directly to their doorsteps and gives people who otherwise might not have tested an opportunity to know their status.”

By early 2023, TTMH will begin distributing a free HIV self-test to people who enroll through its website. Orders will be processed through Amazon and mailed in discreet packages to all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Emory researchers will evaluate the program by assessing who used the tests, how many new diagnoses were made, and how many began HIV treatment or pre-exposure prophylaxis. The program will be monitored and evaluated with data from multiple sources, including order information, web traffic/referral tracking, surveys, and qualitative interviews.

Some populations are disproportionately affected by HIV and less likely to have access to key prevention services. TTMH will work closely with the CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign to market the tests to communities disproportionately affected by HIV, including cisgender gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men; transgender people; and Black or African American cisgender women.

Several organizations will play crucial roles in the implementation of the program. Building Healthy Online Communities will lead outreach and engagement with participants. Signal Group will manage the technical aspects of TTMH, including the website and back-end development. NASTAD will lead public health and community engagement activities. As the sole manufacturer of FDA-approved HIV self-tests, OraSure Technologies will be responsible for the production and logistics of the HIV self-test kits, and CDC’s Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign team will lead the marketing activities. —Brian Katzowitz

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