Wilkinson AL, El-Hayek C, Spelman T, Fairley C, Leslie D, McBryde E, et al. “Seek, Test, Treat” Lessons From Australia: A Study of HIV Testing Patterns From a Cohort of Men Who Have Sex With Men. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015;69(4):460-5. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000613.
Objective: HIV diagnoses are increasing in Australia, mostly among men who have sex with men (MSM). Similar to many countries, Australia’s HIV prevention strategies emphasize a “seek, test, treat” approach including enhancing HIV testing frequency. We describe HIV testing among MSM and correlates of returning for testing within 12 months in the context of new HIV prevention paradigms.
Methods: Testing and behavioral data (2007-2013) contributed by MSM aged >=16 years were included. Total HIV tests by calendar year and repeat tests within 12 months were described, alongside negative binomial regression for trend. A 2-level mixed-effects logistic regression model examined correlates of testing within 12 months. Median (days) between HIV tests was compared between MSM diagnosed with HIV and persistently HIV-negative MSM.
Results: The study included 46,060 tests from 17,904 MSM. There was an increase in annual tests (P < 0.01), repeat tests within 12 months (P < 0.01), and the proportion of tests within 12 months of an index test (P < 0.01), although only to 53.3% in 2013. Return rates were higher in MSM aged 16-29 years (adjusted odds ratio 1.30, 95% confidence interval: 1.1 to 1.5) and those reporting higher numbers of partners (adjusted odds ratio 3.5, 95% confidence interval: 3.0 to 4.0). Median time between tests among MSM diagnosed with HIV (233 days) was greater than for HIV-negative MSM (189 days) (P = 0.03).
Conclusions: Although testing has increased, testing frequency among many MSM remains suboptimal. To optimize “seek, test, treat”-based HIV prevention strategies, new approaches to increase testing uptake and early HIV detection among MSM are needed.