BACKGROUND: Poor HIV testing uptake by MSM may be attributable to unique challenges that are localized in Southeast Asia.
OBJECTIVE: To characterize MSM who never tested for HIV, to identify correlates of never testing, and to elucidate the perceived barriers to HIV testing.
METHODS: The present study used data from the Asian Internet MSM Sex Survey (AIMSS) and restricted the analysis to 4,310 MSM from the ten member countries of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
RESULTS: Among MSM participants from ASEAN in our sample, 1290 (29.9%) reported having never been tested for HIV, 471 (10.9%) tested for HIV more than 2 years ago, and 2186 (50.7%) reported their last test date was between 6 months and two years ago, with only 363 (8.4%) of these men having been tested in the past 6 months. In multivariable logistic regression, younger MSM (age 15-22 years old [AOR: 4.60, 95% CI: 3.04-6.96]), MSM with lower education (secondary school or lower [AOR: 1.37, 95% CI: 1.03-1.83]), MSM who identify as bisexual or heterosexual (compared to gay-identified) (AOR: 1.94, 95% CI: 1.60-2.35), and MSM who had never used a condom with male partners (AOR: 1.61, 95% CI: 1.32-1.97) had higher odds of never been HIV tested. Main reason for not being tested was a low risk perception of HIV exposure (n = 390, 30.2%).
CONCLUSION: Current HIV prevention response must not leave MSM "in the dark," but instead meet them where they are by utilizing the Internet creatively through social media and smart phones. As ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is quickly becoming a reality, so must there be an equally fast and united response to slowing down the HIV epidemics among MSM in ASEAN.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.