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Access to and use of unauthorised online HIV self-tests by internet-using French-speaking men who have sex with men
  1. Tim Greacen1,
  2. David Friboulet2,
  3. Lionel Fugon3,4,5,
  4. Serge Hefez6,
  5. Nicolas Lorente3,4,5,
  6. Bruno Spire3,4,5
  1. 1Laboratoire de recherche, EPS Maison Blanche, Paris, France
  2. 2Institut Alfred Fournier, Paris, France
  3. 3INSERM, U912 (SE4S), Marseille, France
  4. 4Université Aix Marseille, IRD, UMR-S912, Marseille, France
  5. 5Observatoire Régional de la Santé Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur, Marseille, France
  6. 6Espace social et psychologique d'aide aux personnes touchées par le virus du SIDA, Paris, France
  1. Correspondence to Dr Tim Greacen, Laboratoire de recherche, EPS Maison Blanche, 18 rue Rémy de Gourmont, Paris 75019, France; tgreacen{at}


Objectives Although not authorised in France, HIV self-tests are easily available online. The authors questioned French-speaking internet-using men who have sex with men (MSM) concerning their access to and use of such tests.

Methods Online questionnaire on sex websites and gay and HIV community websites. A multivariate logistic regression for rare events was used to identify factors associated with accessing self-tests.

Results 9169 MSM completed the questionnaire. 2748 (30%) were aware of online self-tests, but only 82 of those aware and not already HIV positive (3.5%) declared having accessed one and only 69 using it. In the multivariate model, living one's sex-life with men in absolute secrecy (odds ratio (OR)=3.90, 95% CI 1.73 to 8.76), knowing of the tests via a sex partner (OR=3.42, CI 1.39 to 8.41) or an internet search engine (OR=2.18, CI 1.26 to 3.74) but not through the general (OR=0.21, CI 0.11 to 0.42) or the gay press (OR=0.34, CI 0.16 to 0.73), having unprotected anal intercourse with a casual partner in the preceding year (OR=1.90, CI 1.17 to 3.06), using self-tests for other diseases (OR=2.66, CI 1.43 to 4.90), using poppers (OR=2.23, CI 1.35 to 3.67) and doping products (OR=3.53, CI 1.55 to 8) in the preceding year, having done a traditional HIV test but not in the preceding year (OR=1.93, CI 1.14 to 3.32), never having had suicidal thoughts (OR=0.54, CI 0.32 to 0.90) and living in the provinces (OR=1.80, CI 1.01 to 3.25) were all independently associated with accessing self-tests.

Conclusions Although readiness to admit use of unauthorised medical products may have influenced results, few MSM aware of the existence of self-tests actually declared having accessed one. Accessing the self-test was independently associated with both living one's sex-life with men in total secrecy and having had unprotected anal intercourse in the last 12 months, indicating that autonomous self-testing may reduce barriers to testing for this vulnerable population.

  • Screening
  • gay men
  • HIV testing
  • homosexuality
  • men
  • HIV
  • prevention
  • psychiatry
  • counselling
  • behavioural interventions
  • sexual behaviour
  • AIDS conference
  • AIDS
  • homosexual

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  • Funding This work was supported by the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis grant number ANRS 08078/09099/09520.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval was provided by Commission Nationale d'Informatique et des Libertés.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.