Background: As the HIV epidemic continues to disproportionately impact men who have sex with men (MSM) globally, novel strategies are needed to increase testing uptake. We implemented a peer network HIV self-test distribution strategy to reach African American and Latino MSM who do not regularly test for HIV. We assessed the efficacy of the program by comparing HIV-related testing outcomes to those attained through the local public health department''s targeted HIV testing program.
Methods: African American and Latino MSM and Transgender women (N=31), between 18 and 45 years old were engaged and trained as peer recruiters on the basics of HIV infection, proper use of the OraQuick® In-Home HIV test (OraSure Technologies), and supporting a friend through the testing process. Each peer was given five self-test kits to distribute to MSM friends thought not to have tested for HIV in at least 6 months. Those receiving the self-test kits were asked to complete an online survey after completing their test. Chi-squared tests were used to compare the number of first time testers and new HIV diagnoses through the peer network testing and amongst African American and Latino MSM who tested in a geographically overlapping contemporaneous government supported traditional community-based HIV testing program.
Results: Peers distributed self-test kits to 143 social and sexual network members, of whom 110 completed the online survey. Compared to MSM who utilized the government sponsored testing programs, individuals reached through the peer-based self-testing strategy were significantly more likely to have never tested for HIV (4.0% vs. 0.5%, p< 0.01) and to report a positive test result (3.7% vs 1.5%, p< 0.01), though 6 people in the peer-based strategy (5.5%) declined to provide a result.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that a network-based strategy for self-test distribution is a promising intervention to increase testing uptake and reduce undiagnosed infections among African American and Latino MSM.

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