Introduction Novel ways to encourage HIV testing are urgently needed. In Brighton, the use of a digital vending machine to distribute free self-test kits to men who have sex with men (MSM) using saunas is being piloted along with a campaign to increase awareness of self-testing.
Methods Volunteers attended design workshops and designers attended an LGBT community meeting. Participants completed a questionnaire and discussed visual concepts for the campaign. Workshops utilised tools such as personas (creating ‘characters’ to explore theoretical individuals’ thoughts and behaviours), construction of user journeys, and mock-ups of vending machine design and interaction.
Results There were 11 respondents; 8 aged <25, two 25–34 and one 45–64 years. Eight had previously tested for HIV. Two had self-tested. Themes relating to concerns with self-testing were: perceived reliability or ‘faith in the results’; tests being ‘done properly’; familiarity with self-testing; fear of needles or blood; STI screening; support if test positive. Factors encouraging HIV self-testing were: awareness; accessibility; confidence in ease of use. Key themes relating to visual campaign options were: sense of community and support; clinical versus community settings; giving clear information. Participant discussions using personas included targeting appropriate populations for self-testing and framing the campaign within the ‘gay scene’.
Discussion Few participants had previously self-tested Knowledge and generating a ‘sense of a testing community’ were the most important factors for promoting self-testing. Collaboration with designers and communities ensures a user-centred approach to HIV self-testing.
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