Publications & Reports

Characteristics of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men testing and retesting at Australia’s first shop-front rapid point-of-care HIV testing service.

Ryan KE, Wilkinson AL, Leitinger D, El-Hayek C, Ryan C, Pedrana A, Hellard M, Stoové M


Background: HIV rapid point-of-care (RPOC) testing was approved in Australia in 2012 prompting new testing models. We describe gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBM) testing in the first year of operations at Australia’s first shop-front, community-based RPOC testing service, PRONTO!, and characterise return testers and first-time testers. Methods: Univariable and multivariable logistic regression using data collected at clients' first test at PRONTO! from 15 August 2013 to 14 August 2014 examined correlates of: 1) return-testing within 6 months of GBMs first test at PRONTO!; and 2) reporting a first ever HIV test at PRONTO!. Results: In the first year, 1226 GBM tested at PRONTO! (median age=30.4 years, 60.2% Australian born). Condomless anal sex with casual or regular partners was reported by 45% and 66% of GBM, respectively. Almost one-quarter (23%) of GBM returned within 6 months of their first test. Return-testing was associated with being born overseas (adjusted odds ratio (AOR)=1.48, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.10-2.0), reporting a regular check-up as reason to test (AOR=1.53, 95% CI=1.01-2.30) and reporting a HIV test in the 6 months before first testing at PRONTO! (AOR=1.73, 95% CI=1.09-2.73). Reporting first testing at PRONTO! (17.9%) was positively associated with younger age (<30 years; AOR=1.78, 95% CI=1.18-2.71) and negatively associated with reporting a regular check-up as reason to test (AOR=0.45, 95% CI=0.29-0.71) and recent group sex (AOR=0.37, 95% CI=0.23-0.59). Conclusion: Despite PRONTO! being designed to reduce barriers to HIV testing, return testing rates in the first year were low and not associated with client risk. Service refinements, including the provision of comprehensive sexually transmissible infection testing, are needed to increase testing frequency and enhance population HIV prevention benefits.

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The authors thank all PRONTO! staff and clients who contributed to this study. The authors acknowledge the contribution from the Victorian Primary Care Network for Sentinel Surveillance on Blood Borne Viruses and STIs (VPCNSS) surveillance officers at the Burnet Institute and clinical governance committee. The authors gratefully thank the contribution to this work of Victorian Operational Infrastructure Support Program received by the Burnet Institute. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services funds the evaluation of PRONTO! and ongoing surveillance projects within the Burnet Institute. KR is a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award; AW, AP, MH, and MS receive funding from the National Health & Medical Research Council.