Perceptions of an HIV self-testing intervention and its potential role in addressing the barriers to HIV testing among at-risk heterosexual men: a qualitative analysis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Voluntary HIV testing rates are still low in several Asian countries including Singapore. HIV self-testing (HIVST) has the potential to increase testing, leading to earlier diagnosis and better prognosis. However, the views of at-risk individuals, especially heterosexual men (HSM), who are not coming forward for testing are still poorly understood. In this study, we examined the barriers and facilitators to and delivery preferences for HIVST in order to implement an effective intervention in Singapore.From May 2017 to June 2018, 48 in-depth interviews were conducted with HSM aged 21-66 years and at risk of HIV infection. Participants were purposively sampled based on ethnicity, age and testing behaviour. Recruitment was done mainly at brothels and entertainment establishments in Singapore. Participants gave their views on HIV testing, factors affecting HIVST use and their preferred HIVST service delivery model.Most participants preferred HIVST over conventional testing for its convenience, privacy, anonymity and autonomy, but older men still preferred conventional testing. Low self-perceived risk, low awareness and self-efficacy for HIVST, and non-comprehensive test for other STIs were reported as barriers to HIVST. There were mixed opinions on kit preference. A blood-based kit was favoured for higher accuracy, while the oral-fluid-based kit was favoured for ease of use. Participants wanted a human touch for post-test counselling and linkage to care only if they self-tested positive. Traditional media, internet and social media, and venue-based outreach were potential advertising platforms mentioned.A locally acceptable and feasible HIVST intervention must address the barriers and facilitators of using HIVST in order to improve HIV testing rates among this at-risk population who might otherwise delay or fail to present for testing.© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

publication date

  • January 2021