ISRCTN is a registry and curated database containing the basic set of data items deemed essential to describe a study at inception, as per the requirements set out by the World Health Organisation (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) guidelines.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus transmitted through blood, semen, and breast milk which destroys infected white blood cells and weakens a person’s immune system. Left untreated, a HIV infection can develop into AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) and a person can become vulnerable to severe illnesses like tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Currently, 36.9 million people worldwide are living with HIV but 40% of them are unaware of their HIV status. In honour of World AIDS DAY on December 1, the ISRCTN team discusses clinical trials trying to help more people know their status.
Word of mouth
A recent trial in Uganda used peer recommendations to increase HIV testing rates by training fishermen how to use HIV self-testing kits and encourage other men to self-test. Of those approached by the fishermen, 82% agreed to self-test and 87.6% of those who agreed used the kits immediately.
A similar trial in Malawi is using women attending antenatal clinics to encourage men to test for HIV. While the full trial is ongoing, participants in preliminary interviews were accepting of using women to deliver self-testing kits to their partners. Participants thought this would provide men with privacy and confidentiality, would not require them to miss work, and would allow men to be the first to know their HIV status.
Peer networks are a promising way to improve HIV testing rates - but what role can digital networks play in helping people know their status?