Researchers from the University’s Social and Public Health Sciences Unit found that “fewer than one in five men reported having four or more tests in the last two years.”
The authors of the research also estimated that only around 54.9% of gay men test annually. National guidelines recommend that men who have sex with men get tested at least once a year, while those considered at a “higher risk” from the virus should be testing once every three months.
The study was published in the HIV Medicine Journal today, and is the first of its kind to research the frequency of HIV testing for gay men and men who have sex with men (MSM) in the UK.
“HIV testing is a core component of current HIV prevention,” explained Dr Lisa McDaid, the lead author of the study. “But despite substantial increases in the uptake of HIV testing in recent years, our results suggest MSM in the UK do not test frequently enough.
Dr Mcdaid went on to explain: “Given that current guidelines suggest individuals at risk of HIV test as frequently as every three months – as well as after a risk event – and that men newly diagnosed with HIV are known to have been less frequent testers, there is a clear need to promote frequent testing as routine and address barriers to frequent testing accordingly.”
Dr McDaid added: “Frequent testing will be central to the success of biomedical HIV prevention.
“HIV self-testing kits are now available in the UK, but it remains to be seen if these can increase testing frequency.
“Regional, demographic and behavioural differences and variations in the risk profiles of testers also suggest it is unlikely that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to increasing the frequency of testing will be successful