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HIV Self-Testing among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) in the UK: A Qualitative Study of Barriers and Facilitators, Intervention Preferences and Perceived Impacts.

HIV Self-Testing among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) in the UK: A Qualitative Study of Barriers and Facilitators, Intervention Preferences and Perceived Impacts.
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Witzel TC, Rodger AJ, Burns FM, Rhodes T, Weatherburn P,


Witzel TC, Rodger AJ, Burns FM, Rhodes T, Weatherburn P, (click to view)

Witzel TC, Rodger AJ, Burns FM, Rhodes T, Weatherburn P,

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PloS one 2016 09 0911(9) e0162713 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0162713

Abstract
INTRODUCTION
Innovative strategies, such as HIV self-testing (HIVST), could increase HIV testing rates and diagnosis. Evidence to inform the design of an HIVST intervention in the UK is scarce with very little European data on this topic. This study aims to understand values and preferences for HIVST interventions targeting MSM in the UK. We explore the acceptability of HIVST among MSM in the context of known barriers and facilitators to testing for HIV; assess preferences for, and the concerns about, HIVST.

METHODS
Six focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted with 47 MSM in London, Manchester and Plymouth. HIVST as a concept was discussed and participants were asked to construct their ideal HIVST intervention. OraQuickTM and BioSureTM kits were then demonstrated and participants commented on procedure, design and instructions. FGDs were recorded and transcribed verbatim, then analysed thematically.

RESULTS
Convenience and confidentiality of HIVST was seen to facilitate testing. Issues with domestic privacy problematised confidentiality. HIVST kits and instructions were thought to be unnecessarily complicated, and did not cater to the required range of abilities. The window period was the most important element of an HIVST, with strong preference for 4th generation testing. Kits which used a blood sample were more popular than those using saliva due to higher perceived accuracy although phobia of needles and/or blood meant some would only access HIVST if a saliva sample option was available. A range of access options was important to maintain convenience and privacy. HIVST kits were assumed to increase frequency of testing, with concerns related to the dislocation of HIVST from sexual health care pathways and services.

DISCUSSION
Utility of HIVST arises from relatively high levels of confidentiality and convenience. Until 4th generation assays are available HIVST will be seen as supplementary in a UK context.

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