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Acceptability and effectiveness of using mobile applications to promote HIV and other STI testing among men who have sex with men in Barcelona, Spain
  1. Miguel Alarcón Gutiérrez1,2,
  2. Manuel Fernández Quevedo1,
  3. Silvia Martín Valle3,
  4. Constanza Jacques-Aviñó1,
  5. Elia Díez David3,4,
  6. Joan A Caylà1,4,
  7. Patricia García de Olalla1,4
  1. 1 Servei d’Epidemiologia, Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2 Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain
  3. 3 Servei de Programes i Intervencions Preventives, Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  4. 4 Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Miguel Alarcón Gutiérrez, Servei d’Epidemiologia, Agència de Salut Pública de Barcelona, Barcelona 08023, Spain; malarcon{at}


Objective To evaluate the acceptability and effectiveness of a pilot intervention programme using gay geosocial mobile applications (apps) to offer rapid HIV and other STI tests to men who have sex with men (MSM) in Barcelona between December 2015 and March 2016.

Methodology We offered rapid HIV, syphilis and hepatitis C testing by sending private messages on apps for sexual and social encounters. Acceptance was defined as the proportion of users who favourably responded to the message and effectiveness was defined as the proportion of users who attended our facilities among those who were interested in attending. To identify variables associated with the response to the messages, multivariate logistic regression was used. Adjusted OR (ORa) and 95% CIs were calculated. We collected information on sociodemographics, sexual behaviours and app usage from the contacted user profiles and from users who attended our facilities. A descriptive analysis was carried out.

Results 2656 individual messages were sent. Overall, a 38.4% response rate was obtained, 83.0% of them found it acceptable to receive the unsolicited message, and 73.2% effectiveness was obtained. Responders had higher odds of being 45 years or older (ORa=1.48; 95% CI 1.06 to 2.08), being connected at the moment the message was sent or during the previous hour (ORa=1.92; 95% CI 1.38 to 2.68), having a profile photo not exposing bare chest or abdomen (ORa=1.44; 95% CI 1.07 to 1.92) and using the Grindr app (ORa=1.39; 95% CI 1.12 to 1.73). Of those who were tested and took the survey (n=77), 45.5% had not taken an HIV test in over a year, 24.7% had had a previous STI diagnosis, 51.4% had reported anal sex without condom and 52% had consumed alcohol or drugs for sex.

Conclusions The response rate, acceptance and effectiveness observed in this study indicate that this strategy could be a useful tool for promoting STI testing among high-risk MSM population.

  • Hiv
  • communication technologies
  • sexual behaviour
  • Hiv testing
  • gay men

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  • Handling editor Jackie A Cassell

  • Contributors MAG: conceptualisation, data curation, formal analysis, investigation, methodology, validation, writing the original draft. MFQ: conceptualisation, investigation, methodology, supervision, validation, review and editing. SMV: investigation, supervision, review and editing. CJ-A: conceptualisation, investigation, review and editing. EDD: supervision, review and editing. JAC: resources, supervision, review and editing. PGdO: conceptualisation, project administration, supervision, review and editing.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Informed consent was obtained by the investigators from all participants prior to being tested.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the ethical research committee of Parc de Salut Mar.

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

  • Correction notice This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. The last author’s surname has been corrected.

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