Introduction Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in British Columbia (BC) have a high incidence of HIV/STI, with many reporting barriers to accessing testing. An online HIV/STI testing service, Get Checked Online (GCO), was launched in 2014 to reduce these barriers. In this study we examined reach and acceptability of GCO within the MSM community.
Methods We surveyed MSM living in BC over 6 months in 2016. Participants were recruited at local pride events, bars, on the street, in sexual health clinics, through social media, and on gay hook-up apps and websites. Survey questions were analysed descriptively and included questions about the service itself, sexual health, technology use, and demographic characteristics.
Results Of 1272 participants completing the survey, 78% identified as gay and 16% as bisexual, 73% identified as White, 52% reported being single, and 55% reported living in the city of Vancouver. 32% were aware of GCO, 13% had visited the website and 3% had tested through the service (10% among the 411 men aware of GCO). Among GCO-aware participants, 50% intended to test through the service in the future (vs. 47% among GCO-unaware), 51% reported talking about GCO with others and 22% knew someone who has used it. 46% reported that at times they would use GCO over their usual place of testing. The most common benefits reported by participants were testing without waiting for an appointment (50%), getting results online (46%), and saving time (38%). The most common drawbacks were not speaking with a doctor or nurse (39%), not being sure how the service works (26%), and worrying about the privacy of one’s online information (20%).
Conclusion Approximately 2 years after GCO’s launch, a third of MSM in the region are aware of the service with 1 in 10 GCO-aware men testing through the service. Given high intention to use GCO, these findings highlight the importance of continuing promotion efforts to raise awareness of the service among MSM.
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