Rural College Students' Amenability Toward Using At-Home Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Sexually Transmitted Infection Testing Kits

Randolph D. Hubach, Carlos Mahaffey, Kelley Rhoads, Andrew M. O'Neil, Campbell Ernst, Lynn X. Bui, Justin Hamrick, Zachary Giano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: College students residing in rural areas of the United States have limited access to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and sexually transmitted infection (STI) screening programs; yet, have increased rates of infection. 

Methods: Students (N = 326), attending a state university located within a rural community, completed an online survey containing open-ended questions that gauged their perceptions and experiences with HIV/STI testing, amenability to at-home testing technology, and preferences for obtaining at-home testing kits. Inductive coding was used to create themes for each open-ended question.

Results: Students encounter a number of perceived barriers to accessing clinical HIV/STI testing venues including cost, utilization of parents' medical insurance, and stigma. Students desired screening paradigms that allow for a greater sense of privacy and the ability to be empowered through self-sampling methods. This includes the use of at-home testing kits, which could be accessed via mail, campus, or the local community. Although students were overwhelmingly amenable to using at-home testing, students discussed concerns with potential user error that could impact testing accuracy. 

Conclusions: Study findings suggest the importance of developing less clinically oriented systems of HIV/STI screening, which allow students to choose from an array of screening options. Removing perceived barriers, notably access and privacy concerns, to HIV/STI testing by leveraging at-home testing is one potential method to increase screening uptake among this at-risk population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-588
Number of pages6
JournalSexually Transmitted Diseases
Volume48
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

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