- Liu Y, Sun X, Qian HZ, Yin L, Yan Z, Wang L, Jiang S, Lu H, Ruan Y, Shao Y, Vermund SH, Amico KR. Qualitative Assessment of Barriers and Facilitators of Access to HIV Testing Among Men Who Have Sex with Men in China. AIDS patient care and STDs. 2015 Jul 17. PMID: 26186029 [PubMed].
Diagnosis of HIV is the entry point into the continuum of HIV care; a well-recognized necessary condition for the ultimate prevention of onward transmission. In China, HIV testing rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) are low compared to other high risk subgroups, yet experiences with HIV testing among MSM in China are not well understood. To address this gap and prepare for intervention development to promote HIV testing and rapid linkage to treatment, six focus groups (FGs) were conducted with MSM in Beijing (40 HIV-positive MSM participated in one of four FGs and 20 HIV-negative or status unknown MSM participated in one of two FGs). Major themes reported as challenges to HIV testing included stigma and discrimination related to HIV and homosexuality, limited HIV knowledge, inconvenient clinic times, not knowing where to get a free test, fear of positive diagnosis or nosocomial infection, perceived low service quality, and concerns/doubts about HIV services. Key facilitators included compensation, peer support, professionalism, comfortable testing locations, rapid testing, referral and support after diagnosis, heightened sense of risk through engagement in high-risk behaviors, sense of responsibility to protect self, family and partner support, and publicity via social media. Themes and recommendations were generally consistent across HIV-positive and negative/status unknown groups, although examples of enacted stigma were more prevalent in the HIV-positive groups. Findings from our study provide policy suggestions for how to bolster current HIV prevention intervention efforts to enhance 'test-and-treat' strategies for Chinese MSM.