Index testing among HIV-positive patients is feasible and successful in identifying additional HIV infections in Pakistan


Objective: To assess the feasibility of index testing approach to test the parents and siblings of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive children, and identify HIV-positive individuals.

Methods: The study was conducted at Ratodero, Pakistan. Study participants were enrolled from September 2019 to February 2020.  The list of HIV-positive persons was provided by the Provincial Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Control Programme. Families of 706 HIV-positive persons were approached and all of them agreed to participate. The first test was performed by trained outreach workers. All those with a reactive first test were transported to the nearest health facility for further testing and confirmation. Mothers and siblings were tested at home while additional visits were carried out to reach the fathers. 

Results: A total of 1766 persons were tested through HIV index testing. Biological siblings accounted for 81% of the contacts. We were able to test 413/463 (89.2%) mothers, 232/413 (56.2%) fathers and 1121/1392 (80.5%) siblings. Out of these, 7 mothers (1.7%) and 22 siblings (2.0%) were confirmed to be HIV-positive, while no one was found to be positive among the fathers. The overall HIV prevalence was 1.6% (29/1766). All HIV-positive persons were guided for treatment and care. 

Conclusion: Results indicate that index-testing approach is feasible in Pakistan to expand HIV testing services through home visits. 

Key words: Human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, HIV testing, Pakistan, Index testing, HIV outbreak, Prevalence.