XIX International AIDS Conference


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TUPDC0304 - Poster Discussion Session

Use of a rapid HIV home test to screen potential sexual partners prevents HIV exposure in a high-risk sample of MSM

Presented by Alex Carballo-Diéguez (United States).

A. Carballo-Diéguez, I. Balan, T. Frasca, C. Dolezal, J. Valladares

HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies, NYS Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University, New York, United States

Background: The FDA is considering licensing OraQuick, a rapid, oral fluid, HIV antibody test that provides results in 20 minutes, for over-the-counter sale (“home test” or HT). We studied whether HIV-uninfected, non-monogamous gay and bisexual men living in New York City who never or rarely use condoms would test their partners prior to receptive anal intercourse (RAI) as a harm-reduction approach.
Methods: After baseline assessment and self-testing in our offices, participants received 16 HT kits to take home as an option to use with sex partners for three months, after which they were interviewed.
Results: Of the ethnically diverse 32 men enrolled, 28 completed all study procedures and 27 used HT kits before intercourse with approximately 100 partners. Kits were used at participants' and partners' homes and occasionally in public places. Nine sexual partners were found to be infected; five of them were unaware of their status. Participants showed empathy for partners found to be infected; no sexual intercourse took place after someone's infection was detected. A majority of participants said that having HT kits and using them shifted their own perceptions of risk and led to changes in their risk practices. Very few problems occurred related to HT use. Most participants expressed a strong desire to continue using the test and frustration that they could not buy it freely. Testing had high acceptability among ethnic minority participants and ethnic minority sex partners.
Conclusions: MSM at high risk can use HT to screen sexual partners, and many partners will agree to take the test. Use of HT results in detection of previously unknown infections and avoidance of HIV exposure. Making HT available within networks where high-risk sexual practices are common may be a cost-efficient and effective way to identify previously undetected cases. HT may become an important harm reduction technology.

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