Using telephone and online interviews among 126 persons, the survey “HIV Self-testing among Gay Man and Other Men who Have Sex with Men in the Republic of North Macedonia: Attitudes, Acceptability and Required Information” assessed the HIV self-testing attitudes and acceptability among gay men and other men who have sex with men, first proposed as a prevention strategy in the mid-1980s.
More specifically, the survey looked into the needs and concerns of men who have sex with men (MSM) regarding the possible introduction of HIV self-test kits in the country, it made an assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of using oral fluid versus blood specimen, and identified the HIV self-testing distribution, promotion and support strategies for this population.
The Republic of North Macedonia is a country of low HIV infection level as well as country where HIV self-testing kits are not available: they are neither found in pharmacies nor are offered as a testing opportunity within the onsite prevention activities implemented among groups exposed to greater risk of HIV transmission. However, as part of the measures planned for 2020 in the Republic of North Macedonia and aimed at improving the HIV testing availability for the key populations affected by HIV, it has been foreseen to introduce the HIV self-testing and, for the first time ever, the National Programme for Protection of the Population against HIV Infection has provided for HIV self-testing kits to be procured by the Ministry of Health.
Hence, the findings of this survey would not only help better understand the MSM’s attitudes and acceptability of HIV self-testing but also allow for better public health models to be developed for prevention through HIV testing, and for the testing numbers to increase in the country, both in the MSM population and in other key populations
affected by HIV.