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Study supports PRONTO! expansion

Angus Morgan

17 September, 2015

A Burnet Institute evaluation study has found the community-based, peer-led HIV point-of-care testing service, PRONTO! would be significantly enhanced by the integration of screening for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Burnet PhD candidate Kathleen Ryan surveyed PRONTO! clients between May and October 2014 during the first 15 months of the service, which operates from a shopfront in the inner Melbourne suburb of Fitzroy.

Ninety percent of survey respondents were accustomed to testing for STIs when receiving an HIV test, and 20 percent cited the lack of STI screening as a reason not to return to PRONTO! for HIV testing.

“There are many pluses, the peer model, the atmosphere, the convenient hours and especially the rapid test where you get the result in 30 minutes, that’s a big drawcard,” said Ms Ryan.

“In a conventional testing service you wait three-to-five days for results.

“PRONTO! also has a high proportion of first-time testers coming through, but the rate of testing frequency is low, clients are not returning as often as they should, and we suspect a key reason is the lack of STI testing at the service.”

Australian guidelines recommend all gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men test annually for HIV and other STIs, with high-risk men recommended to test every three months.

Ms Ryan said it’s likely that a large number of clients are testing for STIs at other places in between their visits to PRONTO! and most of them would be HIV tested at the same time.

“The important thing is to enhance the service model of PRONTO! so that people are coming back for their routine testing,” she said.

“PRONTO! has removed a whole bunch of structural barriers to HIV testing, but it’s thrown in the mix one key barrier, and that is, I can’t get my HIV and all of my STI testing done at the same time.

“It’s not unusual for start-up services to build over time. The important thing is that this data is used to refine the model, to ensure that rates of return testing are increased.”

The study results were presented to the 2015 Australasian Society for HIV Medicine Conference in Brisbane.

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Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Mark A Stoové

Head of Public Health Discipline

Telephone

+61385062301

Email

[email protected]

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