Introduction: Acceptability and willingness to both take and pay for HIV self-tests (HIVSTs) in US neighbourhoods with high rates of HIV infection are not well understood.
Methods: We surveyed 1,535 individuals about acceptability and willingness to take and pay for an HIVST in a predominately African American neighbourhood with 3% HIV seroprevalence. We recruited individuals presenting for HIV screening services in a community-based programme. Latent class analysis (LCA) grouped individuals with similar patterns of HIV-risk behaviours and determined which groups would be most willing to use and buy HIVSTs.
Results: Nearly 90% of respondents were willing to use an HIVST; 55% were willing to buy HIVSTs, but only 23% were willing to pay the market price of US $40. Four distinct groups emerged and were characterized by risk behaviours: (1) low risk (N = 324); (2) concurrent partnerships (N = 346); (3) incarceration and substance use (N = 293); and (4) condomless sex/ multiple partners (N = 538). Individuals in the low-risk class were less willing to self-test compared to concurrent sexual partners (OR = 0.39, p = .003) and incarceration and substance use (OR = 0.46, p = .011) classes. There were no significant differences across classes in the amount individuals were willing to pay for an HIVST.
Conclusions: HIVSTs were overwhelmingly acceptable but cost prohibitive; most participants were unwilling to pay the market rate of US $40. Subsidizing and implementing HIVST programmes in communities with high rates of infection present a public health opportunity, particularly among individuals reporting condomless sex with multiple partners, concurrent sexual partnerships and those with incarceration and substance use histories.