Background There continues to be an increase in new HIV diagnoses amongst MSM in the UK, which contributes disproportionately to onwards transmission. In an attempt to reduce the undiagnosed fraction and encourage repeat testing amongst high risk MSM we assessed the feasibility and acceptability of enrolment into a repeat self-sampling HIV-1 antibody testing strategy between May and December 2012. In order to assess representativeness, we compared the characteristics of individuals consenting to take part in the study with those attending the clinical service.
Methods Baseline characteristics at enrolment of 50 eligible MSM attending a specialist HIV young MSM clinic were compared with a previous audit of demographics, sexual risk behaviour and HIV testing frequency of 256 clinic attendees in the year preceding study enrolment.
Results Basic demographic characteristics between the study and clinic population were comparable. There was no significant difference in the median number of reported sexual partners in the last 12 months between groups, which was 2, p = 0.74, or the proportion of those with an STI diagnosis in the last year, which was 22% amongst the study population compared to 20% in the clinic population, p = 0.74. There was no statistically significant difference in the median number of HIV tests taken in the last year, which was 1 in both groups, p = 0.9.
Conclusion Individuals consenting to enrol into a feasibility study of self sampling for HIV testing are comparable to the general clinic attendees and should be representative of this key risk group in later assessment of comparable frequency of HIV testing.
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