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Face-to-face HIV testing preferred option by men who have sex with men

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Face-to-face HIV testing preferred option by men who have sex with men

The majority of men who have sex with men (MSM) would prefer face-to-face HIV testing by a healthcare professional (HCP) out of a range of testing options, a new collaborative study shows. The paper was published in Plos Medicine.

Participants in the study completed an online questionnaire and were able to choose from a range of hypothetical testing options with different characteristics, ranging from face-to-face testing to remote (self) testing and the option not to test. 

The majority (86%) of respondents had a strong preference for face-to-face testing by HCPs rather than remote testing. A much smaller group (14%), which contained MSM who were more likely to be a high infection risk, have never tested and be non-white, would prefer remote testing. However, costs of the test would be a barrier to some getting tested.

Carrie Llewellyn, Professor of Applied Behavioural Medicine (Primary Care and Public Health), the corresponding author of the study at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, one of the collaborating institutions, said: “With more than 4,000 MSM in the UK living with HIV but not yet diagnosed, it’s vital we help them to engage with testing, to ensure prompt treatment and preventing onward infection.

“Our study showed a clear overall preference for face-to-face HIV testing by a healthcare professional. A smaller group of high-risk individuals preferred the option of remote testing, although the cost of such tests put people off. In order to maximise testing, we need to look at making such tests free and easily accessible.”

The research was a collaboration between the Faculty of Public Health and Policy, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; the Department of Primary Care and Public Health, Brighton and Sussex Medical School; the Department of Psychology, University of Southampton, the Royal South Hants Hospital, Solent NHS Trust, and the Institute for Global Health, University College London.

Read the full study here >