Comparing Web-Based Platforms for Promoting HIV Self-Testing and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Uptake in High-Risk Men Who Have Sex With Men: Protocol for a Longitudinal Cohort Study.
BACKGROUND: The majority of those living with HIV in the United States are men who have sex with men (MSM), and young, minority MSM account for more new HIV infections than any other group. HIV transmission can be reduced through detection and early treatment initiation or by starting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), but rates of testing are lower than recommended among MSM, and PrEP uptake has been slow. Although promoting HIV testing and PrEP uptake by placing advertisements on web-based platforms - such as social media websites and dating apps - is a promising approach for promoting HIV testing and PrEP, the relative effectiveness of HIV prevention advertising on common web-based platforms is underexamined.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to evaluate the relative effectiveness of advertisements placed on 3 types of web-based platforms (social media websites, dating apps, and informational websites) for promoting HIV self-testing and PrEP uptake.
METHODS: Advertisements will be placed on social media websites (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), dating apps (Grindr, Jack'd, and Hornet), and informational search websites (Google, Yahoo, and Bing) to recruit approximately 400 young (18-30 years old), minority (Black or Latino) MSM at elevated risk of HIV exposure. Recruitment will occur in 3 waves, with each wave running advertisements on 1 website from each type of platform. The number of participants per platform is not prespecified, and recruitment in each wave will occur until approximately 133 HIV self-tests are ordered. Participants will complete a baseline survey assessing risk behavior, substance use, psychological readiness to test, and attitudes and then receive an electronic code to order a free home-based HIV self-test kit. Two follow-ups are planned to assess HIV self-test results and PrEP uptake.
RESULTS: Recruitment was completed in July 2020.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings may improve our understanding of how the platform users' receptivity to test for HIV differs across web-based platforms and thus may assist in facilitating web-based HIV prevention campaigns.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04155502; https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04155502.
INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/20417.