The longer-term effects of access to HIV self-tests on HIV testing frequency in high-risk gay and bisexual men: follow-up data from a randomised controlled trial

Ye Zhang, Muhammad S. Jamil, Kirsty S. Smith, Tanya L. Applegate, Garrett Prestage, Martin Holt, Phillip Keen, Benjamin R. Bavinton, Marcus Chen, Damian P. Conway, Handan Wand, Anna M. McNulty, Darren Russell, Matthew Vaughan, Colin Batrouney, Virginia Wiseman, Christopher K. Fairley, Andrew E. Grulich, Matthew Law, John M. KaldorRebecca J. Guy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background:: A wait-list randomised controlled trial in Australia (FORTH) in high-risk gay and bisexual men (GBM) showed access to free HIV self-tests (HIVSTs) doubled the frequency of HIV testing in year 1 to reach guideline recommended levels of 4 tests per year, compared to two tests per year in the standard-care arm (facility-based testing). In year 2, men in both arms had access to HIVSTs. We assessed if the effect was maintained for a further 12 months. Methods:: Participants included GBM reporting condomless anal intercourse or > 5 male partners in the past 3 months. We included men who had completed at least one survey in both year 1 and 2 and calculated the mean tests per person, based on the validated self-report and clinic records. We used Poisson regression and random effects Poisson regression models to compare the overall testing frequency by study arm, year and testing modality (HIVST/facility-based test). Findings:: Overall, 362 men completed at least one survey in year 1 and 343 in year 2. Among men in the intervention arm (access to HIVSTs in both years), the mean number of HIV tests in year 2 (3⋅7 overall, 2⋅3 facility-based tests, 1⋅4 HIVSTs) was lower compared to year 1 (4⋅1 overall, 1⋅7 facility-based tests, 2⋅4 HIVSTs) (RR:0⋅84, 95% CI:0⋅75-0⋅95, p=0⋅002), but higher than the standard-care arm in year 1 (2⋅0 overall, RR:1⋅71, 95% CI:1⋅48-1.97, p<0⋅001). Findings were not different when stratified by sociodemographic characteristics or recent high risk sexual history. Interpretation:: In year 2, fewer HIVSTs were used on average compared to year 1, but access to free HIVSTs enabled more men to maintain higher HIV testing frequency, compared with facility-based testing only. HIV self-testing should be a key component of HIV testing and prevention strategies. Funding:: This work was supported by grant 568971 from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100214
JournalThe Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Keywords

  • Gay and bisexual men
  • HIV
  • HIV self-testing
  • Randomised controlled trial

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