Preparedness for use of the rapid result HIV self-test by gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM): a mixed methods exploratory study among MSM and those involved in HIV prevention and care

Paul Flowers, Julie Riddell, Caroline Park, Bipasha Ahmed, Ingrid Young, Jamie Frankis, Mark David McGregor Davis, Mark Gilbert, Claudia Estcourt, Lesley Wallace, Lisa McDaid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The aim of the study was to explore preparedness for the HIV self-test among men who have sex with men (MSM) and those involved in HIV prevention and care. Methods: A mixed methods exploratory research design was employed, detailing awareness and willingness to use the self-test and the perceived barriers and facilitators to implementation. Quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis were completed in parallel. Descriptive and inferential analysis of cross-sectional bar-based survey data collected from MSM through a self-completed questionnaire and oral fluid specimen collection (n = 999) was combined with qualitative, thematic, analysis of data collected through 12 expert focus groups (n = 55) consisting of gay men, National Health Service (NHS) staff, community organizations, entrepreneurs and activists. Findings were subsequently combined and assessed for synergies. Results: Among MSM, self-test awareness was moderate (55%). Greater awareness was associated with increased educational attainment [adjusted odds ratio 1.51; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.00–2.30; P = 0.05] and previous history of sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing (adjusted odds ratio 1.63; 95% CI 1.11–2.39; P = 0.01). Willingness to use the test was high (89%) and associated with meeting sexual partners online (unadjusted odds ratio 1.96; 95% CI 1.31–2.94; P < 0.001). Experts highlighted the overall acceptability of self-testing; it was understood as convenient, discreet, accessible, and with a low burden to services. However, some ambivalence towards self-testing was reported; it could reduce opportunities to engage with wider services, wider health issues and the determinants of risk. Conclusions: Self-testing represents an opportunity to reduce barriers to HIV testing and enhance prevention and access to care. Levels of awareness are moderate but willingness to use is high. Self-testing may amplify health inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245–255
Number of pages11
JournalHIV Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • HIV prevention
  • HIV testing
  • men who have sex with men
  • sexual health
  • sexual risk behaviour

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