HIV self-testing and STI self-collection via mobile apps: experiences from two pilot randomized controlled trials of young men who have sex with men.

TitleHIV self-testing and STI self-collection via mobile apps: experiences from two pilot randomized controlled trials of young men who have sex with men.
Publication TypePublication
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsBiello KB, Horvitz C, Mullin S, Mayer KH, Scott H, Coleman K, Dormitzer J, Norelli J, Hightow-Weidman L, Sullivan P, Mimiaga MJ, Buchbinder S, Bojan K, Futterman D, Emmanuel P, Liu A
JournalMhealth
Volume7
Pagination26
Date Published2021
ISSN2306-9740
Abstract

<p><b>Background: </b>Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) are disproportionately impacted by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States (US) and have low rates of HIV/STI testing. Provision of HIV self-testing and STI self-collection can increase testing rates, and access to these kits through mobile applications (apps) could help facilitate YMSM using HIV self-testing and STI self-collection.</p><p><b>Methods: </b>Data for this study comes from two pilot randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of mobile apps within the Adolescent Trials Network-LYNX and MyChoices-aimed to increase HIV/STI testing among YMSM (age 15-24) who had not recently tested for HIV and were at high risk for HIV acquisition across five US cities. Both apps include the ability to order a HIV self-test with rapid results and a kit for STI self-collection and mailing of samples for syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia to a lab for testing. Using assessments of app users (n=80) at pre-randomization and at 3- and 6-months post-randomization and online interview data from a purposive sample of app users (n=37), we report on experiences and lessons learned with HIV self-testing and STI self-collection kits ordered via the apps.</p><p><b>Results: </b>Participants were on average 20.7 years of age (SD =2.4), and 49% were non-White or multiple race/ethnicity. Sixty-three percent had a prior HIV test. Over half (58%) had a prior STI test, but only 3% had tested within the past 3 months. Nearly two-thirds ordered an HIV self-testing kit; of whom, 75% reported using at least one self-test kit over the study period. STI self-collection kit ordering rates were also high (54%); however, STI self-collection kit return rates were lower (13%), but with a high positivity rate (5.3%). Both HIV self-testing and STI self-collection kits were highly acceptable, and 87% reported that it was extremely/very helpful to be able to order these kits through the apps. The most common reason for not ordering the HIV/STI kits was preferring to test at a clinic. In interviews, participants expressed feeling empowered by being able to test at home; however, they also raised concerns around STI sample collection.</p><p><b>Conclusions: </b>HIV self-testing and STI self-collection kit ordering via mobile apps is feasible, acceptable and may show promise in increasing testing rates among YMSM. The LYNX and MyChoices apps are currently being tested in a full-scale efficacy trial, and if successful, these innovative mobile apps could be scaled up to efficiently increase HIV/STI testing among youth across the US.</p>

DOI10.21037/mhealth-20-70
Alternate JournalMhealth
PubMed ID33898595
PubMed Central IDPMC8063023
Grant ListU19 HD089881 / HD / NICHD NIH HHS / United States