HIV testing among men who have sex with men (MSM): systematic review of qualitative evidence

Published: August 26, 2011

Abstract

We conducted a systematic review of qualitative evidence relating to the views and attitudes of men who have sex with men (MSM) concerning testing for HIV. Studies conducted in high-income countries (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development members) since 1996 were included. Seventeen studies were identified, most of gay or bisexual men. Data were analysed using a thematic analysis methodology. The uncertainty of unknown HIV status is an important motive for testing; however, denial is also a common response to uncertainty. Fear of the consequences of a positive HIV test is widespread and may take several forms. A sense of responsibility towards oneself or one’s partner may be a motive for testing. The perception of stigma, from other gay men or from the wider culture, is a barrier to testing. Gay and other MSM have clear preferences regarding testing services, particularly for those that are community based, include non-judgemental and gay-positive service providers, and offer a high degree of confidentiality.

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