To describe a community-based HIV testing programme.
Design and setting
An intervention of HIV voluntary testing conducted in non-medical settings in four French cities.
Men who have sex with men (MSM).
Counselling and rapid HIV testing staffed by trained personnel from an HIV/AIDS community-based organisation.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
The population that has taken hold of the intervention and the satisfaction of participants. Data were collected on demographics, HIV testing history, sexual practices and satisfaction with the testing programme.
532 MSM were tested between February 2009 and June 2010, of whom 49 (9%) were tested two or more times. 468 MSM (88%) had casual male partners in the previous 6 months, and 152 (35%) reported having unprotected anal intercourse with risky casual partners (HIV infected or HIV serostatus unknown). 159 men (30%) had not been tested in the previous 2 years, and 50 (31%) of whom had unprotected anal intercourse with risky casual partners. Among the 15 patients who tested positive (2.8%), 12 (80%) received confirmation and were linked to care (median CD4 cell count =550/mm3). Satisfaction was high: 92% reported being ‘very satisfied’ with their experience. Steps of counselling and testing procedure were respected by testers and difficulties in handling tests were rare.
This community-based HIV testing programme reached high-risk MSM, of whom a substantial proportion had not been tested lately. This novel service supplements pre-existing HIV testing services and increases access to HIV testing in high-risk groups.
How extend testing facilities to reach and test for HIV more MSM and diagnose HIV-infected MSM earlier?
The presence of peers and non-clinical staff members who address sexuality more openly and avoid medical jargon during counselling sessions could offset cultural barriers and reduce fears of HIV and associated stigma.
The article describes an experimental programme of community-based HIV testing: the population reached, the quality of the programme and the satisfaction of participants.
This community-based HIV testing and counselling programme reaches MSM with high-risk sexual behaviour, a substantial proportion of whom has not tested for HIV recently.
Community testers are able to perform rapid HIV test into a comprehensive prevention approach in line with participant's life.
2.8% of participants tested positive. Infection was confirmed in all cases, 80% were linked to care. Cases were diagnosed at early stages of disease.
Strengths and limitations of this study
This HIV testing and counselling programme is exclusively based on MSM community, and continuing the prevention counselling with the awareness of the HIV serostatus includes testing into a comprehensive prevention approach.
Community-based HIV testing programmes may be attractive and efficient in large urban areas (like Paris), but perhaps less so in smaller cities, where an outreach approach may work better.
The number of HIV diagnoses was small; the prevalence and median CD4 count among the few HIV-infected participants should therefore be interpreted with caution.