GCU highlights HIV testing research on World AIDS Day

01 December 2014

GCU highlights HIV testing research

GCU highlights HIV testing research

Researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) have highlighted an urgent need for innovative and diverse ways of increasing HIV testing amongst those at high risk of infection.

Several new approaches to the testing tool kit are available, including driving forwards innovations within approaches which use home sampling and those which harness self-testing.

GCU is marking World AIDS Day (December 1) by highlighting HIV testing and its significant research in this area.

100,000 people in the UK are living with HIV and that rates of new diagnoses amongst gay men remain high - a further 3,250 were diagnosed in 2013 alone. It is estimated that 7,200 gay men living with HIV are undiagnosed and represent the key population which maintains the rate of new HIV infections. Understanding this group of men and enabling them to seek testing and treatment represents a vital way forwards in controlling HIV in the UK and beyond.

Access to and uptake of HIV testing has increased significantly over the past few years. In Scotland, for example, the percentage of gay men who have never tested has reduced dramatically from 50% in 2000, to 20% in 2010. Yet in a recent study of gay men and other men who have sex with men from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland we found only 20% of men at high risk of infection had tested within the last six months.

GCU’s Professor Paul Flowers is leading a new £127,000 project funded by the National Institute for Health Research – Health Technology Assessment, into the clinical effectiveness of behaviour change interventions to reduce risky sexual behaviour after a negative HIV test in men who have sex with men (MSM).

Receiving a negative HIV test result offers an opportunity for a timely and meaningful intervention to help men reduce sexual risk taking.

This study aims to establish the clinical effectiveness of behaviour change interventions to reduce risky sexual behaviour after a negative HIV test in MSM; how interventions work, for whom, why, and in which contexts and settings in relation to a variety of outcomes (e.g. condom use, HIV knowledge, HIV incidence); and provide clear direction of how interventions can be delivered.

GCU is also a partner in an NIHR study investigating the feasibility and acceptability of home sampling kits to increase the uptake of HIV testing among black Africans in the United Kingdom. The £410,000 Haus Study is led by University College London and has study sites in both London and Glasgow, each has a high prevalence of HIV in the African population, but they have distinct health care systems, differ in the proportion of Africans within their population, and in the provision of HIV and community services.