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      Potential of HIV Self-Sampling to Increase Testing Frequency Among Gay, Bisexual, and Other Men Who Have Sex With Men, and the Role of Online Result Communication: Online Cross-Sectional Study

      , MD, PhD 1 , , PhD , 2 , 3 , , BSc, MPH 2 , 4 , , BSc, PhD 2 , 5 , , BA, BSc, MSc 6 , , MA 7 , , BSc 8 , , BSc 9 , , PhD 2 , 3 , , MD, MPH, PhD 2 , 3 , , MD, MPH, PhD 2 , 4 , , MPH, PhD 2 , 10 , EURO HIV EDAT Group 11

      (Reviewer), (Reviewer)

      Journal of Medical Internet Research

      JMIR Publications

      early diagnosis, HIV, testing, men who have sex with men, online testing, MSM, diagnosis, self-sampling, frequency, cross-sectional, communication

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          Late HIV diagnosis remains frequent among the gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) population across Europe. HIV self-sampling could help remove barriers and facilitate access to testing for this high-risk population.


          We assessed the capacity of HIV self-sampling to increase the testing frequency among GBMSM living in Denmark, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Romania, and Spain, and evaluated the role of new technologies in the result communication phase.


          We analyzed a convenience sample of 5019 GBMSM with prior HIV testing experience who were recruited during 2016 through gay dating websites. We estimated the proportion of GBMSM who reported that the availability of self-sampling would result in an increase of their current testing frequency. We constructed a Poisson regression model for each country to calculate prevalence ratios and 95% CIs of factors associated with an increase of testing frequency as a result of self-sampling availability.


          Overall, 59% (between country range 54.2%-77.2%) of the participants considered that they would test more frequently for HIV if self-sampling was available in their country. In the multivariate analysis, the increase of testing frequency as a result of self-sampling availability was independently associated with reporting a higher number of unprotected anal intercourse events in all countries except for Greece. Independent associations were also observed among GBMSM who were not open about their sex life in Germany, Greece, Portugal, and Spain; those with a lower number of previous HIV tests in Denmark, Greece, Portugal, and Spain; and for those that took their last test more than 3 months previously in Germany, Portugal, Romania, and Spain. In addition, 58.4% (range 40.5%-73.6%) of the participants indicated a preference for learning their result through one-way interaction methods, mainly via email (25.6%, range 16.8%-35.2%) and through a secure website (20.3%, range 7.3%-23.7%). Almost two thirds (65%) of GBMSM indicated preferring one of these methods even if the result was reactive.


          Availability of HIV self-sampling kits as an additional testing methodology would lead to a much-needed increase of testing frequency, especially for the hidden, high-risk, and undertested GBMSM population. Online-based technologies without any personal interaction were preferred for the communication of the results, even for reactive results.

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          Most cited references 33

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          Prevention of HIV-1 infection with early antiretroviral therapy.

          Antiretroviral therapy that reduces viral replication could limit the transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in serodiscordant couples. In nine countries, we enrolled 1763 couples in which one partner was HIV-1-positive and the other was HIV-1-negative; 54% of the subjects were from Africa, and 50% of infected partners were men. HIV-1-infected subjects with CD4 counts between 350 and 550 cells per cubic millimeter were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive antiretroviral therapy either immediately (early therapy) or after a decline in the CD4 count or the onset of HIV-1-related symptoms (delayed therapy). The primary prevention end point was linked HIV-1 transmission in HIV-1-negative partners. The primary clinical end point was the earliest occurrence of pulmonary tuberculosis, severe bacterial infection, a World Health Organization stage 4 event, or death. As of February 21, 2011, a total of 39 HIV-1 transmissions were observed (incidence rate, 1.2 per 100 person-years; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.9 to 1.7); of these, 28 were virologically linked to the infected partner (incidence rate, 0.9 per 100 person-years, 95% CI, 0.6 to 1.3). Of the 28 linked transmissions, only 1 occurred in the early-therapy group (hazard ratio, 0.04; 95% CI, 0.01 to 0.27; P<0.001). Subjects receiving early therapy had fewer treatment end points (hazard ratio, 0.59; 95% CI, 0.40 to 0.88; P=0.01). The early initiation of antiretroviral therapy reduced rates of sexual transmission of HIV-1 and clinical events, indicating both personal and public health benefits from such therapy. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and others; HPTN 052 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00074581.).
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            Alternatives for logistic regression in cross-sectional studies: an empirical comparison of models that directly estimate the prevalence ratio

            Background Cross-sectional studies with binary outcomes analyzed by logistic regression are frequent in the epidemiological literature. However, the odds ratio can importantly overestimate the prevalence ratio, the measure of choice in these studies. Also, controlling for confounding is not equivalent for the two measures. In this paper we explore alternatives for modeling data of such studies with techniques that directly estimate the prevalence ratio. Methods We compared Cox regression with constant time at risk, Poisson regression and log-binomial regression against the standard Mantel-Haenszel estimators. Models with robust variance estimators in Cox and Poisson regressions and variance corrected by the scale parameter in Poisson regression were also evaluated. Results Three outcomes, from a cross-sectional study carried out in Pelotas, Brazil, with different levels of prevalence were explored: weight-for-age deficit (4%), asthma (31%) and mother in a paid job (52%). Unadjusted Cox/Poisson regression and Poisson regression with scale parameter adjusted by deviance performed worst in terms of interval estimates. Poisson regression with scale parameter adjusted by χ2 showed variable performance depending on the outcome prevalence. Cox/Poisson regression with robust variance, and log-binomial regression performed equally well when the model was correctly specified. Conclusions Cox or Poisson regression with robust variance and log-binomial regression provide correct estimates and are a better alternative for the analysis of cross-sectional studies with binary outcomes than logistic regression, since the prevalence ratio is more interpretable and easier to communicate to non-specialists than the odds ratio. However, precautions are needed to avoid estimation problems in specific situations.
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              Mortality in well controlled HIV in the continuous antiretroviral therapy arms of the SMART and ESPRIT trials compared with the general population.

              Due to the success of antiretroviral therapy (ART), it is relevant to ask whether death rates in optimally treated HIV are higher than the general population. The objective was to compare mortality rates in well controlled HIV-infected adults in the SMART and ESPRIT clinical trials with the general population. Non-IDUs aged 20-70 years from the continuous ART control arms of ESPRIT and SMART were included if the person had both low HIV plasma viral loads (≤400 copies/ml SMART, ≤500 copies/ml ESPRIT) and high CD4(+) T-cell counts (≥350 cells/μl) at any time in the past 6 months. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) were calculated by comparing death rates with the Human Mortality Database. Three thousand, two hundred and eighty individuals [665 (20%) women], median age 43 years, contributed 12,357 person-years of follow-up. Sixty-two deaths occurred during follow up. Commonest cause of death was cardiovascular disease (CVD) or sudden death (19, 31%), followed by non-AIDS malignancy (12, 19%). Only two deaths (3%) were AIDS-related. Mortality rate was increased compared with the general population with a CD4(+) cell count between 350 and 499 cells/μl [SMR 1.77, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.17-2.55]. No evidence for increased mortality was seen with CD4(+) cell counts greater than 500 cells/μl (SMR 1.00, 95% CI 0.69-1.40). In HIV-infected individuals on ART, with a recent undetectable viral load, who maintained or had recovery of CD4(+) cell counts to at least 500 cells/μl, we identified no evidence for a raised risk of death compared with the general population.

                Author and article information

                J Med Internet Res
                J Med Internet Res
                Journal of Medical Internet Research
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                November 2020
                30 November 2020
                : 22
                : 11
                [1 ] Gerencia Regional de Salud de Castilla y León Valladolid Spain
                [2 ] CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP) Madrid Spain
                [3 ] Departamento de Salud Pública y Materno-Infantil Universidad Complutense de Madrid Madrid Spain
                [4 ] Centro Nacional de Epidemiología Instituto de Salud Carlos III Madrid Spain
                [5 ] Departament de Salut Centre Estudis Epidemiologics sobre les Infeccions de Transmissio Sexual i Sida de Catalunya (CEEISCAT) Generalitat de Catalunya Badalona Spain
                [6 ] Checkpoint Athens Athens Greece
                [7 ] AIDS Hilfe NRW e.V. Berlin Germany
                [8 ] GAT-Grupo de Ativistas em Tratamentos Lisboa Portugal
                [9 ] ARAS-Asociatia Romana Anti-SIDA Bucharest Romania
                [10 ] Escuela Nacional de Sanidad Instituto de Salud Carlos III Madrid Spain
                [11 ] See Acknowledgments
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Juan Hoyos hoyosmiller@ 123456hotmail.com
                ©Tomás Maté, Juan Hoyos, Juan Miguel Guerras, Cristina Agustí, Sophocles Chanos, Matthias Kuske, Ricardo Fuertes, Roxana Stefanescu, Jose Pulido, Luis Sordo, Luis de la Fuente, María José Belza, EURO HIV EDAT Group. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (http://www.jmir.org), 30.11.2020.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on http://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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