HIV testing week 2015: Lowering barriers for HIV testing among high-risk groups in Amsterdam

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Background: Evaluation of the HIV Testing Week (HTW) 2015 in Amsterdam: the number of (positive) tested persons, characteristics and testing history of the tested population, the differences in attendance per location and the healthcare workers' experiences and opinions concerning the HTW. Methods: The HTW took place from 28 November till 4 December 2015. Anonymous HIV rapid testing (INSTI™ HIV1/HIV2 Ab test or Determine™ HIV-1/2 Ag/Ab test) was offered free of charge at four hospitals, 12 general practitioner (GP) clinics, a sexually transmitted infections (STI) clinic, a laboratory, sites of a community-based organisation, and at outreach locations. Home-based testing (OraQuick® In-Home HIV Test) was offered online. The focus was to motivate two groups to test: men who have sex with men (MSM) and non-Western migrants. Questionnaires regarding participant's characteristics and HIV testing history were collected. Also healthcare workers were asked to complete a questionnaire evaluating the HTW. Results: In total, 1231 participants were tested. With three positive HIV tests, the detection rate was 0.3% (95%CI 0.26-0.37). Of all participants, 24.7% (304/1231) were MSM. Respectively, 22.3% (275/1231) and 15.7% (193/1231) were first- and second-generation migrants from a non-Western country. Altogether, 56.7% (698/1231) of participants belonged to one of the targeted risk groups. For 32.7% (402/1231) of participants, it was the first time they received testing, and 35.1% (432/1231) were tested more than 1 year ago. Among MSM 13.2% were tested for the first time, among first- and second-generation non-Western migrants this percentage was significantly higher at 27.2% and 33.5% respectively (p < 0.01). The number of tested participants per location varied widely, especially between GP clinics (range 3-63). Healthcare workers were positive about the HTW: about half (46.2%) stated they would more readily offer an HIV test following their experience with the HTW. Conclusions: This was the first time the Amsterdam HTW was organised on such a large scale. The majority of the tested population belonged to one of the targeted risk groups and received testing either for the first time or for the first time in over a year. It is important to further build upon the experiences of the HTW and offer free of charge low-threshold HIV testing more structurally. An evaluation of cost-effectiveness is also warranted for future editions of the HTW.




Bartelsman, M., Joore, I. K., van Bergen, J. E., Hogewoning, A. A., Zuure, F. R., van Veen, M. G., … Zuure, F. R. (2017). HIV testing week 2015: Lowering barriers for HIV testing among high-risk groups in Amsterdam. BMC Infectious Diseases, 17(1).

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