JOURNAL ARTICLE

Internet-facilitated, voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) clinic-based HIV testing among men who have sex with men in China

Huachun Zou, Zunyou Wu, Jianping Yu, Min Li, Muhtar Ablimit, Fan Li, Katharine Poundstone
PloS One 2013, 8 (2): e51919
23418417

OBJECTIVE: To explore the feasibility of using Internet outreach to encourage men who have sex with men (MSM) to get tested for HIV at voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) clinics in Beijing and Urumqi, China.

METHODS: From June to August 2007, two volunteers contacted MSM using instant messaging, online chat rooms, mobile phone, and e-mail (active recruitment). Banners with study information were put at the front pages of three major Chinese gay websites (passive recruitment). Those contacted were offered a modest financial incentive to seek HIV testing at existing VCT clinics. Those who subsequently sought HIV testing services at VCT clinics and provided informed consent completed a questionnaire and a blood draw to test for HIV and syphilis.

RESULTS: A total of 3,332 MSM were contacted and 429 attended VCT clinics. One out of every 4 men that were recruited through instant messaging actually went for HIV testing, while the recruitment yields for online gay chat rooms, mobile phone contact, and email were 1∶6, 1∶10, and 1∶140, respectively. The majority of participants (80%, 317/399) reported being motivated to seek HIV testing out of concern for their health, and only 3% (11/399) reported being motivated by the financial incentive. Active recruitment tend to recruit MSM who are younger (X(2) = 11.400, P = 0.001), never tested for HIV (X(2) = 4.281, P = 0.039), tested less often (X(2) = 5.638, P = 0.018).

CONCLUSION: Internet outreach is a promising way to encourage MSM to seek HIV testing at existing VCT clinics. Active recruitment can target MSM who are younger, never tested for HIV and tested less often.

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