Human Immunodeficiency Virus Testing Practices and Interest in Self-Testing Options Among Young, Black Men Who Have Sex With Men in North Carolina

Sex Transm Dis. 2016 Sep;43(9):587-93. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000484.


Background: Young, black men who have sex with men (YBMSM) experience disproportionately high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) incidence in the United States. Relative to other at-risk populations, less is known about their HIV testing behaviors and preferences regarding self-testing.

Methods: We used an online survey to investigate testing practices and interest in self-testing among HIV-uninfected, 18- to 30-year-old YBMSM in North Carolina.

Results: From July 2014 to March 2015, 212 completed the survey; median age was 24 years. Among 175 (83%) who had ever been tested, 160 (91%) reported testing in the prior year, 124 (71%) tested at least every 6 months, and 71 (40%) tested at least quarterly. About three quarters (77%; n = 164) were aware of HIV self-testing; 35 (17%) had ever purchased rapid (n = 27) or dried blood spot-based (n = 14) kits. Participants aware of kits had greater intention to test in the next 6 months, were more likely to have income for basic necessities and to ask sex partners about HIV status, and were less likely to have a main sex partner or to have had transactional sex. Among 142 participants at least somewhat likely to self-test in the future, convenience (35%), privacy (23%), and rapid result delivery (18%) were the principal motivators.

Conclusions: Eight of every 10 YBMSM have ever been tested for HIV, but intertest intervals remain unacceptably long for many. Awareness of and interest in self-testing is substantial, but few have used this method. Expanded use of self-tests could help increase the frequency of HIV testing in this epidemiologically important population.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mass Screening / psychology*
  • North Carolina
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Self Care / methods
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult