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Identifying undiagnosed HIV in men who have sex with men (MSM) by offering HIV home sampling via online gay social media: a service evaluation
  1. E Elliot,
  2. M Rossi,
  3. S McCormack,
  4. A McOwan
  1. HIV/GUM directorate, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emilie Elliot, 56 Dean Street, HIV/GUM Directorate, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 369 Fulham Road, London SW10 9JY, UK; emilieelliot{at}doctors.net.uk

Abstract

Background An estimated one in eight men who have sex with men (MSM) in London lives with HIV, of which 16% are undiagnosed. It is a public health priority to minimise time spent undiagnosed and reduce morbidity, mortality and onward HIV transmission. ‘Dean Street at Home’ provided an online HIV risk self-assessment and postal home HIV sampling service aimed at hard-to-reach, high-risk MSM.

Objectives This 2-year service evaluation aims to determine the HIV risk behaviour of users, the uptake of offer of home sampling and the acceptability of the service.

Methods Users were invited to assess their HIV risk anonymously through messages or promotional banners on several gay social networking websites. Regardless of risk, they were offered a free postal HIV oral fluid or blood self-sampling kit. Reactive results were confirmed in clinic. A user survey was sent to first year respondents.

Results 17 361 respondents completed the risk self-assessment. Of these, half had an ‘identifiable risk’ for HIV and a third was previously untested. 5696 test kits were returned. 121 individuals had a reactive sample; 82 (1.4% of returned samples) confirmed as new HIV diagnoses linked to care; 14 (0.25%) already knew their diagnosis; and 14 (0.25%) were false reactives. The median age at diagnosis was 38; median CD4 505 cells/µL and 20% were recent infections. 61/82 (78%) were confirmed on treatment at the time of writing. The post-test email survey revealed a high service acceptability rate.

Conclusions The service was the first of its kind in the UK. This evaluation provides evidence to inform the potential roll-out of further online strategies to enhance community HIV testing.

  • HIV TESTING
  • SERVICE DELIVERY
  • DIAGNOSIS
  • PUBLIC HEALTH
  • GAY MEN

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