In California and locally in Alameda County, HIV disproportionately impacts African American and Latino men who have sex with men (MSM). This study will develop and test an innovative strategy to identify MSM who are unaware of their status, have them test for HIV and for those that are positive, link them to HIV care and services. The proposed intervention will have MSM, called “seeds,” reach out to their social networks and recruit their peers to take an HIV test using a self-test kit. Seeds will be trained to deliver prevention messages that encourage their friends and peers who are at risk for HIV to take the HIV self-test. The seeds provide support through the testing process and if the peer is found to be positive, they will assist in linking the peer to HIV care and services.
The use of the self-test kit has the potential to overcome many of the structural barriers to testing, such as stigma, discrimination, homophobia, privacy concerns, lack of access to care, mistrust of medical providers and wait times in clinical settings. This intervention strategy also has the potential to reach young MSM who don’t normally test, by accessing this hard-to-reach population in a place where testing can occur immediately and the men are in control of the process. The study aims to examine how well the proposed intervention identifies MSM who had been undiagnosed and how well the intervention links HIV positive MSM to care.