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Acceptability and feasibility of using digital vending machines to deliver HIV self-tests to men who have sex with men

Abstract

Objective Technology-based approaches to distribute HIV self-tests (HIVST) have the potential to increase access to HIV testing in key populations. We evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of using vending machines (VMs) in a community setting to distribute HIVST to men who have sex with men at high-risk of HIV.

Methods First, a predevelopment survey of targeted potential users explored attitudes towards HIVST and the use of a VM to deliver HIVST. Second, participatory design workshops between designers and community volunteers informed the production of a bespoke VMs dispensing free BioSureHIVST. Uptake of HIVST and user experiences were evaluated using information supplied directly from the machines interface (number of tests dispensed, user demographics), an online questionnaire and semistructured interviews.

Results The predevelopment survey found that 32% of 232 sauna users had never tested for HIV, despite high-risk behaviours. A total of 265 testing kits were dispensed: mean age 31 range (18–70); 4%(n = 7) had never tested for HIV before and 11% (n = 22) had tested within the last 1–5 years. Uptake of tests was significantly higher via the VMs compared with outreach testing by community workers in the same venue during a comparable period (34 vs 6 tests per month). Qualitative interviews and online questionnaires demonstrated high acceptability for this intervention, which was considered accessible and appropriately targeted.

Conclusions VMs to distribute HIVST was feasible and acceptable. This intervention could be used in different settings to improve access to HIV testing for key populations

  • HIV
  • HIV testing
  • gay men
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