Empowering HIV testing as a prevention tool: Targeting interventions for high-risk men who have sex with men.

Published: April 23, 2012


Abstract In France, HIV testing can be easily performed in free and anonymous voluntary counselling testing (VCT) centres. The recent national study among French men who have sex with men (MSM) showed that 73% of those already tested for HIV had been tested in the previous two years. Nothing is known about the risk behaviours of MSM attending VCT centres. This study aimed to characterize sexual risk behaviours of MSM tested for HIV in such centres and identify factors associated with inconsistent condom use (ICU). A cross-sectional study was conducted from March to December 2009 in four VCT centres where a self-administered questionnaire was proposed to all MSM about to have a HIV test. ICU was defined as reporting non-systematic condom use during anal intercourse with casual male partners. Among the 287 MSM who fully completed their questionnaire, 44% reported ICU in the previous six months. Among those who had been already tested, 63% had had their test in the previous two years. Factors independently associated with ICU included: never avoiding one-night stands, not having been recently HIV tested, experiencing difficulty in using condoms when with a HIV negative partner or when under the influence of drugs or alcohol and finally, reporting to have had a large number of casual male partners in the previous six months. The rate of recently tested MSM was high in our study. Nevertheless, this rate was lower than that found in the last national study. Furthermore those not recently tested were significantly more likely to report high risk behaviours. We therefore recommend that further efforts be made to adapt the offer of both HIV testing and counselling to meet the specific needs of hard-to-reach MSM. Accordingly, an additional community-based offer of HIV testing to reach most-at-risk MSM is forthcoming in France.

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