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Interest in and informal use of home HIV tests among Australian gay men.

Interest in and informal use of home HIV tests among Australian gay men.

Background: Recent Australian regulatory approval of rapid HIV tests (RHT) was specific to clinical use. While individuals may import RHT for personal use there is no regulatory provision for self-testing. Home testing kits are licensed for use in some countries and are increasingly available online. Australian gay men may access these test kits during travel overseas or through online purchasing.

Methods: TAXI-KAB was a national online survey of Australian gay men recruited during late 2012, mostly prior to Australian approval of any rapid HIV test. 567 non HIV-positive men responded to questions about rapid HIV home test kits.

Results: Most men were gay (86.9%). Mean age was 38 years. 88.4% had been tested for HIV. The majority (53%) were aware of RHT and 33.1% knew they were available for home use overseas. Most (84.1%) indicated they would likely use RHT (in any setting) and 12% had already done so, mainly (7%) while overseas. Most (70.8%) men indicated they would likely use a rapid home test kit if it was available. Nine men had already tested themselves at home, seven of whom had purchased the test kit online. Most men believed that the customer should pay at least some (48.1%) or all (31.3%) of the cost of home test kits.

Conclusion: Many gay men are keen to have access to rapid HIV home testing, and a small number have already done so. Prior to RHT becoming available in Australia, some gay men had already used this technology overseas. Gay men are increasingly likely to access home testing, regardless of official policy. Without appropriate guidelines for reliable methods of sourcing and using this technology, and interpreting results, gay men may use poor quality, unapproved test kits, thereby risking inaccurate test results and uninformed responses to test results.

Areas of Interest / Categories: AIDS 2013

AIDS 2013

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