A demonstration project conducted in Bulgaria has shown that more people get tested for HIV when self-testing is available. In situations where testing is based in health-care institutions, it can be a challenge to encourage some people to come forward. Community-based testing is reported to be a good way to overcome those barriers, but it can be labour intensive. Self-testing can work out less expensive, and a demonstration project conducted last year has shown the role it can play.
Testing for HIV is a critical public health intervention because it is the first step towards treatment and care. With current antiretroviral treatment, people who test positive can expect to live a healthy life with HIV without passing it on to anyone else.
The population groups in Bulgaria who are most vulnerable to HIV infection include gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people. Despite progress in recent years, many MSM and transgender people in Bulgaria are not aware of their HIV status and are reluctant to seek testing at health institutions because of the associated stigma.
Source: WHO, 18 September 2020