Published in Plos Medicine, a new study find that face-to-face HIV testing is the preferred option by men who have sex with men.
The research of HIV testing was a collaboration between the Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Brighton and Sussex Medical School; the Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, the Royal South Hants Hospital, Solent NHS Trust, and the Institute for Global Health, University College London, UK.
The world of HIV testing
The majority of men who have sex with men (MSM) would prefer face-to-face HIV testing by a healthcare professional (HCP) out of a range of testing options, according to the new collaborative study.
Participants in the study completed an online questionnaire and were able to choose from a range of hypothetical testing options with different characteristics, ranging from face-to-face testing to remote (self) testing and the option not to test.
86% of respondents had a strong preference for face-to-face testing by HCPs rather than remote testing. A much smaller group of 14%, which contained MSM who were more likely to be a high infection risk, have never tested and be non-white, would prefer remote testing. However, costs of the test would be a barrier to some getting tested.
Need to engage with HIV testing
Carrie Llewellyn, Professor of Applied Behavioural Medicine (Primary Care and Public Health), the corresponding author of the study at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, one of the collaborating institutions, said: “With more than 4,000 MSM in the UK living with HIV but not yet diagnosed, it’s vital we help them to engage with testing, to ensure prompt treatment and preventing onward infection.
“Our study showed a clear overall preference for face-to-face HIV testing by a healthcare professional. A smaller group of high-risk individuals preferred the option of remote testing, although the cost of such tests put people off.
“In order to maximise testing, we need to look at making such tests free and easily accessible.”
About Brighton and Sussex Medical School
Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS) is a partnership between the Universities of Brighton and Sussex and the local NHS health community. At BSMS, the universities identify research areas in medicine where they believe they can make a rapid and real difference.