Open Access Open Badges Research article

Introducing rapid oral–fluid HIV testing among high risk populations in Shandong, China: feasibility and challenges

Gifty Marley1, Dianmin Kang2, Erin C Wilson3, Tao Huang2, Yuesheng Qian2, Xiufang Li4, Xiaorun Tao2, Guoyong Wang2, Huanmiao Xun1 and Wei Ma1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics, School of Public Health, Shandong University, #44 West Wenhua Road, Jinan 250012, Shandong Province, PR China

2 Shandong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Jinan, China

3 San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA, USA

4 The Sex Health Center, The Affiliated Hospital of Medical College Qingdao University, Qingdao, China

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:422  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-422

Published: 3 May 2014



This study was conducted to ascertain the feasibility of using rapid oral fluid testing as an alternative HIV testing method in China.


This is a mixed-method study among men who have sex with men (MSM), female sex workers (FSW) and VCT clients, conducted in 4 cities in Shandong Province. A pre-tested questionnaire was administered to 1137 participants through face-to-face interview to assess demographic characteristics, HIV testing histories and willingness to accept rapid oral fluid testing. VCT clients were provided with the saliva test kits for a screening test and errors in operation were recorded. Testing results were compared between oral and blood testing. Short feedback questionnaire was administered to 200 FSW who had undergone oral testing.


The rate of willingness to take oral-fluid HIV testing among MSM, FSW and VCT clients was 72.8%, 72.1% and 67.4% respectively. Common errors recorded during test kit operation by the 229 VCT clients included: unpreparedness, wrong swab sampling, wrong dilution, wrong testing and inability to read test results. Advantages of oral testing listed by participants included: less intrusive, painlessness, easy self- testing and privacy. Disadvantages included perceived unreliable results (55.5%) and not nationally recognised (9%). Comparison of saliva and the blood testing results recorded a consistency rate of 0.970 (χ2 = 153.348, P < 0.001), implying an excellent consistency.


Introduction of oral rapid fluid testing as an alternative HIV testing method in China is highly feasible but with some challenges including low recognition and operation errors.

HIV/AIDS; Rapid oral fluid test; Saliva testing; Feasibility and acceptance; China