HIV and STI Testing Preferences for Men Who Have Sex with Men in High-Income Countries: A Scoping Review

Varsicka Kularadhan, Joscelyn Gan, Eric P.F. Chow, Christopher K. Fairley, Jason J. Ong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Regular testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STI) is recommended at least annually for sexually active men who have sex with men (MSM) in most high-income countries. To encourage regular use of HIV and STI testing and treatment services for MSM, we reviewed the literature to summarise the attributes of an HIV/STI testing service that MSM prefer. Method: We conducted a scoping review, searching PubMed, EMBASE, PsycINFO and CINAHL in January 2020 for articles reporting primary data on the preferences of MSM (living in high-income countries) for HIV/STI testing services. Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts and any discrepancies were resolved by a third reviewer. We extracted data on the service attributes that MSM preferred and summarised these thematically using a socioecological framework. Results: In total, 1464 publications were identified, 220 full texts were read and 57 were included in the final analysis. We found 21 articles addressing ‘individual’ attributes, 50 articles addressing ‘service’ attributes and 17 articles addressing ‘societal’ attributes. The key themes of preferences for HIV/STI testing services were: (1) the appeal of self-testing due to convenience and privacy; (2) the need to provide a variety of testing options; and (3) the influence of the testing experience, including confidentiality and privacy, tester characteristics and stigma. There were distinct patterns of preferences for subpopulations of MSM across studies, such as the preference of self-testing for young MSM, and of in-clinic testing for those who perceived themselves as high risk (i.e., with symptoms of STIs or exposed to a partner living with HIV). Conclusion: To make HIV/STI testing more accessible for MSM and encourage regular screening, it is important to address ‘individual’, ‘service’ and ‘societal’ attributes, such as enhancing the convenience of testing through self-testing, and providing a service that men feel comfortable and safe accessing. Furthermore, services should accommodate the preferences of diverse sub-populations within the MSM community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3002
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Health service delivery
  • HIV
  • Men who have sex with men
  • Sexually transmitted infection

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