Sex Transm Infect 87:229-231 doi:10.1136/sti.2010.048397
  • Health services research

Short message service reminder intervention doubles sexually transmitted infection/HIV re-testing rates among men who have sex with men

  1. A McNulty1,3
  1. 1Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Kensington, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Chris Bourne, NSW STI Programs Unit, Sydney Sexual Health Centre, Sydney Hospital, PO Box 1614, Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2001, Australia; christopher.bourne{at}
  1. Contributors VK was responsible for overall management of the SMS programme. HL designed the SMS programme in the clinic medical record system and extracted the data for the analysis. HW in consultation with RG carried out the statistical analysis. CB and RG devised the original idea for the study. RG provided methodological advice on the evaluation design and analysis of the study. AM, CB and VK advised on clinical practice and interpretation of results. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Accepted 10 January 2011
  • Published Online First 4 February 2011


Objectives To evaluate the impact of a short message service (SMS) reminder system on HIV/sexually transmitted infection (STI) re-testing rates among men who have sex with men (MSM).

Methods The SMS reminder programme started in late 2008 at a large Australian sexual health clinic. SMS reminders were recommended 3–6 monthly for MSM considered high-risk based on self-reported sexual behaviour. The evaluation compared HIV negative MSM who had a HIV/STI test between 1 January and 31 August 2010 and received a SMS reminder (SMS group) with those tested in the same time period (comparison group) and pre-SMS period (pre-SMS group, 1 January 2008 and 31 August 2008) who did not receive the SMS. HIV/STI re-testing rates were measured within 9 months for each group. Baseline characteristics were compared between study groups and multivariate logistic regression used to assess the association between SMS and re-testing and control for any imbalances in the study groups.

Results There were 714 HIV negative MSM in the SMS group, 1084 in the comparison group and 1753 in the pre-SMS group. In the SMS group, 64% were re-tested within 9 months compared to 30% in the comparison group (p<0.001) and 31% in the pre-SMS group (p<0.001). After adjusting for baseline differences, re-testing was 4.4 times more likely (95% CI 3.5 to 5.5) in the SMS group than the comparison group and 3.1 times more likely (95% CI 2.5 to 3.8) than the pre-SMS group.

Conclusion SMS reminders increased HIV/STI re-testing among HIV negative MSM. SMS offers a cheap, efficient system to increase HIV/STI re-testing in a busy clinical setting.


  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the South Eastern Sydney Area Health Service research ethics committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.