Patterns of testing among repeat users of an online sexually transmitted and blood-borne infection (STBBI) testing system in British Columbia, Canada
Internet Based Testing
Mark Gilbert, Aidan Ablona, Ihoghosa Iyamu, Hsiu-Ju Chang, Heather Pedersen, Paul Flowers, Nathan Lachowsky, Travis Salway, Troy Grennan, Devon Haag, Cathy Worthington, Daniel Grace.
CAHR 2023, Apr 27-30, 2023, Quebec City, Canada.
Background: The scale-up of online STBBI testing services has changed the testing landscape yet questions remain about how people use these services in relation to provider-based testing. We surveyed repeat users of GetCheckedOnline, British Columbia’s online STBBI testing service, about their concurrent use of provider-based testing services.
Methods: Between Nov 21-Dec 6, 2022, we invited GetCheckedOnline users who had consented to be contacted for research, were ≥16 years old, and had tested at least twice through the service (once in the past 6 months) to an online survey. Descriptive results are presented.
Results: Of 1798 invited users, 789 (44%) participated, with 46% identifying as women, 68% as White, and 38% as straight/heterosexual. Over half (57%) reported usually testing for STBBI at least every 3-4 months. Approximately 48% reported only testing through GetCheckedOnline. The remaining 52% reported provider-based testing scenarios that included during health visits for other reasons (50%), needing to speak to providers about sexual health (35%), testing as part of HIV treatment or PrEP (27%), needing tests not offered through GetCheckedOnline (26%), experiencing symptoms (29%), or having had a partner with an STI (14%). Most (88%) agreed that GetCheckedOnline allowed them to test sooner than through a provider, and 86% agreed they test more often because of GetCheckedOnline. If GetCheckedOnline had not been available, most (89%) would have accessed provider-based testing; however, 11% (80/747) would not have sought further testing.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that most repeat users had shifted all or part of their current testing to GetCheckedOnline, which they perceived as facilitating more frequent and earlier testing. For some, GetCheckedOnline appeared to be the only testing option they would use. Our findings position online STBBI testing as an important complement to provider-based services and suggest that online testing services may help alleviate demands on provider-based testing services.