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Frequent HIV testing among gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBM) is a strategic priority for HIV prevention in Australia. To overcome barriers to testing in conventional clinical services, Australia recently introduced peer HIV rapid point of care (RPOC) testing services for GBM. This mixed methods evaluation describes client acceptability and HIV prevention benefits of a peer HIV testing model. Most aspects of the service model were overwhelmingly acceptable to clients. Two-thirds of survey participants reported preferring testing with peers rather than doctors or nurses and over half reported learning something new about reducing HIV risk. Focus group findings suggested peer-delivered HIV RPOC testing reduced stigma-related barriers to frequent testing and provided novel opportunities for GBM to openly discuss HIV prevention and sexual practices, enhancing their HIV risk-reduction knowledge. Analysis of survey data suggested knowledge transfer occurred particularly among younger and less gay community-attached GBM.
The National Health and Medical Research Council provides funding to Margaret Hellard as a Principal Research Fellow (1112297), Mark Stoove´ as a Career Development Fellow (1090445), Alisa Pedrana as an Early Career Fellow (1072943) and Anna Wilkinson as a Public Health Scholarship recipient (1055196). Kathleen Ryan is a recipient of the Australian Postgraduate Award. Graham Brown receives funding from the Commonwealth Department of Health through the Health Surveillance Fund. The Victorian Department of Health funds ongoing surveillance projects within the Burnet Institute.