Internet-based testing services for sexually-transmitted and blood-borne infections (STBBI) are intended to make it easier to get tested. It’s possible though, that people who use these services already have good access to testing, widening the gap for people who need to get tested the most.
We tested these scenarios in a study comparing the experiences of people using the internet-based STBBI testing service GetCheckedOnline.com (GCO) to people getting tested in person at an STI clinic. We found that GCO was being used by people who face more barriers to getting tested for STBBI, and not just by people had higher socio-economic status or who were more tech-savvy. The full article can be accessed here.
We are pleased to announce our recent success in the HIV Implementation Science Team Grant competition funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Ours was one of five teams in Canada to be awarded this prestigious grant, which will enable us to research the necessary conditions to effectively and equitably scale up GetCheckedOnline to diverse populations and geographic settings. Led by Drs. Mark Gilbert, Catherine Worthington, and Daniel Grace, this five year research project brings together a diverse team of 48 researchers, community experts, and decision-makers to monitor the expansion of GetCheckedOnline in British Columbia and Toronto and rigorously examine the factors that enable the service to reach intended populations and reduce health inequities including HIV incidence. Findings will be published on Lovebytes, stay tuned!
What influences users’ “e-loyalty” to certain health promotion websites over others? If one were to design a health promotion website to attract and retain visitors, what are the important features to consider?
This article examines how the ease of understanding information presented on the BCCDC’s sexual health promotion website SmartSexResource influenced users’ trust, perceived effectiveness, and overall experience of the website, ultimately influencing their e-loyalty.
Find out more about this article here!
Some of our latest findings on the impact of GetCheckedOnline (GCO) were presented this summer at the STI & HIV World Congress in Rio de Janeiro.
- In a survey comparing GCO to STI clinic clients, we found:
- Satisfaction with testing through GCO was comparable with or higher than STI clinic clients (Poster).
- Users of GCO are more likely than STI clinic clients to report experiencing barriers to accessing STBBI testing, including access to a clinic (e.g., distance, wait-times), and health care access and stigma (e.g., discomfort discussing sexual history with health care providers; Presentation)
- There were no differences in knowledge of HIV test concepts between GCO and STI clinic clients (Poster).
- In a recent online/venue/clinic-based survey of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) in the greater Vancouver area we found 32% awareness of GCO, and of those aware 10% had tested, 50% intended to use GCO, 22% knew a GCO user and 51% had discussed GCO with someone else (Poster).
- In interviews with Youth and GBMSM who had used GCO, participants said they preferred using GCO due to its convenience, anonymity, control over tests received, speed of results, and use without disclosing sexual orientation (Poster).
We also presented details of the method we used to evaluate a promotional campaign to GBMSM in the first year of GCO (Presentation), as well as a comparison of participant characteristics from three simultaneous convenience surveys of GBMSM to understand differences between online, pride festival, and clinic-based samples of GBMSM (Presentation).
Given the increasing number of online health services that don’t involve seeing a doctor or nurse, we recently published our experience developing the informed consent step in GetCheckedOnline.com.
We spoke with users about their perceptions of the step, who saw it as important and for the protection of the user and the service. How the consent page was designed was also key to disrupting the “routinization” of consent that happens on most websites.
Find out more about our article!
We conducted an evaluation of the first 15 months of GetCheckedOnline (GCO) that was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research this week. The findings were generally positive, with the service being used by people without a previous history of testing, with behaviours that may indicate a higher risk of infection. Ten people (3%) were diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection.
We did see drop-off at each stage of the testing pathway, and a need to promote GCO to youth and ethnically diverse populations. The highest rates of testing were in people who’d accessed GCO instead of waiting for an appointment at an STI clinic – motivation to test is definitely important!
For more info see our page for this article.
This week we published a description of what it took to develop GetCheckedOnline, BC’s internet-based testing program for STI and BBI. There’s not a lot of information out there about how to develop complex e-health interventions that are fully integrated with clinical and public health services, so we hope that this will help shorten the process for others!
The article also describes how GetCheckedOnline works, as well as links to screenshots of the application and a video showing you how a client uses the program.
The article is published in JMIR Research Protocols – check it out!
GetCheckedOnline showed its LGBT Pride over the long weekend at the Davie Street Dance Party and Sunset Beach Pride Festival. At both events, party-goers visited our booth to learn about the GetCheckedOnline program and to play our popular “Don’t Gotta Catch’Em All” sexually transmitted infections game (featuring giant stuffed STIs that oddly resemble Pokémon Go characters…) We also enlisted the help of volunteers from the Health Initiative for Men, Totally Outright, and the Community-Based Research Centre’s Investigaytors program to distribute surveys to Pride attendees. We surveyed gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men to help us learn what guys think about internet-based testing, which will inform future improvements to the service and how it’s promoted. Survey participants walked away with a cute GetCheckedOnline lip balm, mints, or much-coveted packages of gum.
Visit the GetCheckedOnline team next at the New West Pride Columbia Street party, Saturday August 13th from 3-8pm!
SmartSexResource has a new feature: testing and vaccine reminders! Now people can sign up to receive reminders by text or email. The only information required is a phone number or email address.
SmartSexResource now offers reminders for:
- Regular STI testing (every 3, 6 or 12 months)
- Re-testing following a diagnosis of chlamydia, gonorrhea or syphilis (at 3 or 6 months)
- Hepatitis vaccines (HAV, HBV, Twinrix)
- HPV vaccines (Cervarix, Gardasil, Gardasil-9)
The Immunization Certificate cards (yellow cards) have been updated to include a link to SmartSexResource to sign up for reminders. The new cards will be distributed to the clinics shortly.
Check it out at: smartsexresource.com/reminders
While many patients have good access to testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) through their family physician or a sexual health clinic, this isn’t the case for everyone… Mark Gilbert, Devon Haag, and Troy Grennan discuss common barriers to clinic-based STI/HIV testing and introduce GetCheckedOnline as an additional testing option in this recent issue of the BC Medical Journal. Check out the full article below!