Day 1: SARAH Bell - Research Officer, University of Queensland
It is interesting to know of such a project in Queensland: HIV Self Testing (HIVST) service.
The aim of the service is to pilot and evaluate the efficacy of the program, determining if it increases access to HIVST particularly for gay and other men who have sex with men (MSM), infrequent and new testers and those in regional and remote areas. A model was formulated which includes recruitment pathways through dating apps, word of mouth, gay apps and social media sites; all designed to engage those mentioned population. Ordering of the HIVST kit along with a completed survey were all done on-line. They receive and return the kit. Once test was done, they receive a follow-up phone call giving contacts to organizational support if test was reactive and an option for test reminders if non-reactive.
As of 30 September 2017, 630 kits were ordered of which 516 are from Queensland and the rest are from different states. Main reason stated for availing of the service was unprotected sex and test access convenience.
These are the preliminary results from the targeted population:
- 71.9% reside in Major QLD city compared to only 1.4% from remote or very remote QLD.
- 65% of gay and other MSM used the service.
- 38.3% are those that have never had any form of HIV testing
- 23.9% those who have had HIV tests done >12 months
In the light of these findings, it can be said that the service will be a success if rolled out state-wide or nationally mainly because of its dicreteness and test accessibility. However more should be done to somehow tap those in remote places and to also target Aboriginal and TSI populaion. These findings will inform further improvements to better the service and provide more access to marginalized population.