Objective: To examine trends in the HIV testing behaviour of gay men in Scotland over a ten-year period.
Methods: Seven cross-sectional surveys in commercial gay venues in Glasgow and Edinburgh (1996-2005). 9613 men completed anonymous, self-complete questionnaires (70% average response rate).
Results: Among 8305 respondents included in these analyses, HIV testing increased between 1996 and 2005, from 49.7% to 57.8% (P< 0.001). The proportion of men who had tested recently (in the calendar year of, or immediately prior to, the survey) increased from 28.4% in 1996 to 33.2% in 2005, when compared with those who have tested but not recently, and those who have never tested (AOR 1.31, 95% CI 1.13-1.52). However, among ever testers, there was no increase in rates of recent testing. Recent testing decreased with age: 31.3% of the <25, 30.3% of the 25-34, 23.2% of the 35-44, and 21.2% of the >44 years age groups had tested recently. Among men reporting two or more unprotected anal intercourse partners in the previous year, only 41.4% had tested recently.
Conclusions: HIV testing among gay men in Scotland increased between 1996 and 2005, and corresponds with the Scottish Government policy change to routine, opt-out testing in genitourinary medicine clinics. However, testing rates remain low and compare unfavourably to near universal testing levels elsewhere. The limited change, and decline across age groups, in recent HIV testing rates suggest few men test repeatedly or regularly. Additional, innovative efforts are required to increase the uptake of regular HIV testing among gay men.