Expanding the Reach of HIV Diagnostics

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in eight people living with HIV in the United States is undiagnosed, and more than one third of all new HIV infections are transmitted by people who do not know they are infected.

HIV self-tests, which can be done at home or in other private settings, are a confidential way for people to learn their HIV status so they can connect to lifesaving treatment and help reduce the spread of HIV. Driven by COVID-19 lockdowns and closures, HIV self-testing increased over the past two years, and it has proven to be a cost-effective way to make HIV testing more attainable in regions where access to healthcare is a challenge—including rural and traditionally underserved communities.

Community-based organizations such as faith-based organizations, community health clinics, advocacy organizations, AIDS service organizations and others are essential partners in HIV prevention and care and can help expand self-testing in the communities that need it most. These local organizations can share important health information in ways that overcome stigma, misinformation and fear about HIV.

Funded by CDC, and with the support of the CDC Foundation, 52 organizations from across the country are building on their existing HIV work and establishing culturally relevant self-testing programs that are tailored to their communities, using easy-to-understand, science-based information. In addition, they have partnered with health departments, neighborhood businesses, schools and religious institutions to communicate the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and have enlisted the help of trusted local voices in their outreach efforts.

“With the support of organizations like the CDC Foundation, we are transforming the way HIV testing is seen in our community here,” said Danny Sprouse, HIV prevention manager at the Pride Center at Equity Park, a community-based organization in South Florida that meets the unique health, social, educational, socio-economic and safety needs of the LGBTQ+ community. “By normalizing it and making HIV testing easily accessible, persons otherwise resistant to testing because of fears of stigma and/or demographic or geographic reasons are now being reached.”

The work of these community-based organizations is having a major impact. Since the start of the project, these organizations have reached more than one million people, distributing thousands of test kits and risk-reduction products like condoms. To support these efforts, the organizations are using communications materials and messages to amplify their reach in priority communities and spread the word on the importance of knowing your status.

Beyond the financial support we provide to the community-based organizations, the CDC Foundation has also partnered with Community Education Group, a West Virginia-based HIV prevention-focused organization, to provide technical assistance, capacity-building support and HIV self-tests to the funded organizations.

While advancing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (2022-2025), this project is using collaborative partnerships with medical clinics and local and national organizations to expand the reach and impact of HIV self-testing programs, saving lives and creating a healthier future.

This project is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $9 million with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government.