A Novel Way to Encourage HIV Tests and Treatment: Anonymous Texts
By BETH HARPAZ
New CUNY research suggests that one way to encourage people to notify their partners about HIV infections is to provide an app that lets them text the information anonymously. A study by researchers at Hunter College found a “high willingness” among gay and bisexual men to use “app-based partner notification” with vouchers for HIV self-testing kits and treatment.
The study was published in Sexually Transmitted Infections. CUNY faculty researchers included Tyrel Starks and H. Jonathon Rendina (Hunter College), and Christian Grov (Graduate School of Public Health). The lead author was Steven John, a former CUNY post-doc who is now a faculty member at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
The study asked 786 gay or bisexual men who self-tested HIV negative whether, after a hypothetical diagnosis of a bacterial sexually transmitted infection, they’d be willing to supply recent sex partners with free vouchers for HIV self-testing kits and prescriptions. Ninety percent said they would, and 96 percent of that group said they’d be willing to notify sex partners they met online using an anonymous function within geosocial sexual networking apps.
Ninety-three percent of those surveyed said they would likely obtain counseling and testing if notified of possible exposure to an STI via an app; they’d self-test for HIV if given a free voucher by app; and they’d obtain treatment if sent a prescription voucher.