Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing Practices and Interest in Self-Testing Options Among Young, Black Men Who Have Sex With Men in North Carolina


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Abstract

BackgroundYoung, black men who have sex with men (YBMSM) experience disproportionately high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) incidence in the United States. Relative to other at-risk populations, less is known about their HIV testing behaviors and preferences regarding self-testing.MethodsWe used an online survey to investigate testing practices and interest in self-testing among HIV-uninfected, 18- to 30-year-old YBMSM in North Carolina.ResultsFrom July 2014 to March 2015, 212 completed the survey; median age was 24 years. Among 175 (83%) who had ever been tested, 160 (91%) reported testing in the prior year, 124 (71%) tested at least every 6 months, and 71 (40%) tested at least quarterly. About three quarters (77%; n = 164) were aware of HIV self-testing; 35 (17%) had ever purchased rapid (n = 27) or dried blood spot-based (n = 14) kits. Participants aware of kits had greater intention to test in the next 6 months, were more likely to have income for basic necessities and to ask sex partners about HIV status, and were less likely to have a main sex partner or to have had transactional sex. Among 142 participants at least somewhat likely to self-test in the future, convenience (35%), privacy (23%), and rapid result delivery (18%) were the principal motivators.ConclusionsEight of every 10 YBMSM have ever been tested for HIV, but intertest intervals remain unacceptably long for many. Awareness of and interest in self-testing is substantial, but few have used this method. Expanded use of self-tests could help increase the frequency of HIV testing in this epidemiologically important population.

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