Tomás Maté , MD, PhD 1 , Juan Hoyos , PhD , 2 , 3 , Juan Miguel Guerras , BSc, MPH 2 , 4 , Cristina Agustí , BSc, PhD 2 , 5 , Sophocles Chanos , BA, BSc, MSc 6 , Matthias Kuske , MA 7 , Ricardo Fuertes , BSc 8 , Roxana Stefanescu , BSc 9 , Jose Pulido , PhD 2 , 3 , Luis Sordo , MD, MPH, PhD 2 , 3 , Luis de la Fuente , MD, MPH, PhD 2 , 4 , María José Belza , MPH, PhD 2 , 10 , EURO HIV EDAT Group 11
30 November 2020
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.