Clinical, psychological and behavioural barriers to HIV testing amongst MSM (men who have sex with men) who use social and sociosexual media: Implications for HIV prevention programmes

Jamie Frankis, Christina Knussen, Karen Lorimer, Mark Davis, Paul Flowers

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

Abstract

High levels of undiagnosed HIV infection, alongside emerging prevention biotechnologies necessitate regular, at least yearly testing of at-risk populations. Here we examine multiple barriers to HIV testing for UK MSM.
Methods: Cross-sectional online surveys were conducted with (n=2080) MSM recruited from Facebook and gay sociosexual networking media in Scotland (49%), the Republic of Ireland (23%), Wales (18%), and Northern Ireland (9%). Sociodemographic and sexual behaviour data were collected, along with the 18 Item 'Barriers and Norms for HIV testing scale' (Knussen et al, 2013), including 'testing benefits, 'positive result fear', 'clinic-related barriers', 'attitudes to sex with HIV+ partners' and 'HIV testing norms' subscales.
Results: 42% of participants (mean age 37 years; 97% white; 78% gay) reported =1 HIV test in the previous year, 25% tested >1 year ago and 32% had never tested.
Being untested was related to living in Wales and Northern Ireland*, being =44**, unemployment ** and < degree qualifications**. Testing in the last year was related to being =44*, employment**, degree education**, gay identity**, gay scene use**, being 'out'** and higher risk sex (=2 condomless anal partners) in the previous year**.
Untested men saw fewer benefits of testing**, more negative attitudes to sex with positive partners**, and weaker testing norms **. Men who tested in the previous year saw greater benefits**, less fear** and stronger norms**.
Multivariate logistic regression suggested that untested higher risk men had greater fear *, weaker norms * and < degree education*.

Conclusion: HIV testing amongst MSM in the UK/Ireland remains suboptimal. Men at higher sexual risk of HIV test more frequently, but suboptimally given their relative risk. Psychological barriers and norms around testing were related to men's testing recency. These results provide a focus for the content as well as audience segmentation for targeted HIV prevention programmes to optimise testing amongst MSM.

*p< 0.05,**p< 0.001
Original languageEnglish
PagesPE23/20
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2015

Keywords

  • clinical barriers
  • psychological barriers
  • behavioural barriers
  • HIV
  • MSM

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