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HIV testing history and preferences for future tests among gay men, bisexual men and other MSM in England: results from a cross-sectional study

BMJ Open 2016; 6: e011372 (doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-011372).

Authors: T. Charles Witzel, G J Melendez-Torres, Ford Hickson, Peter Weatherburn

Abstract

Objectives: The British HIV Association's (BHIVA) testing guidelines recommend men who have sex with men (MSM) test annually or more frequently if ongoing risk is present. We identify which groups of MSM in England are less likely to have tested for HIV and their preferences for future tests by testing model, in order to inform health promotion programmes.
Methods: Data come from the Gay Men's Sex Survey 2014, a cross-sectional survey of MSM, aged 16 years or older and living in the UK. Only men who did not have diagnosed HIV and were living in England were included in this analysis. We used logistic regression models to understand how social determinants of health were associated with not testing for HIV in the past 12 months, and never having tested. We then cross-tabulated preferred testing location by demographic characteristics.
Results: Younger men, older men and men who were not gay identified were least likely to have tested for HIV. Higher educational attainment, migrancy, Black ethnicity and being at higher of risk were associated with greater levels of HIV testing. Men who were less likely to have tested for HIV preferred a wider range of options for future HIV testing.
Conclusions: If the BHIVA's HIV testing policy of 2008 was used to guide testing priorities among MSM focus would be on increasing the rate of annual testing among MSM at less risk of HIV (ie, younger men, older men and non-gay identified MSM). Instead the promotion of more frequent testing among the groups most at risk of infection should be prioritised in order to reduce the time between infection and diagnosis.

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