Factors predicting first-time hepatitis C virus testing uptake among men who have sex with men in China: an observational prospective cohort study.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at high risk of hepatitis C virus (HCV). This study investigated predictors of first-time HCV testing uptake during a 6-month period among a sample of MSM in Hong Kong.Participants were 351 Chinese-speaking MSM who had never received HCV testing. Participants completed two telephone surveys 6 months apart. At baseline, participants reported on sociodemographics, sexual behaviours, risk perception, depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms. Illness representations, which refers to how people think about HCV, was measured by the Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire (BIPQ) at baseline. The BIPQ assessed identity (identifying symptoms of HCV), timeline (whether HCV is acute/chronic), consequences (severity of HCV), personal control and treatment control (whether HCV is under volitional control), concern, emotions (anger, guilt or shame) and coherence (overall comprehensibility of HCV). Six months later, participants reported on HCV testing uptake. Logistic regression was used to analyse the associations between baseline predictors and HCV testing uptake.Most participants were aged ≤30 years (55.0%) and had attained college education or above (85.2%). Among 242 participants (68.9%) who completed the month 6 follow-up, 12.4% had tested for HCV during the follow-up period. After adjustment for HIV testing and chemsex in the last year, participants who perceived more severe consequences of HCV reported higher HCV testing uptake (adjusted ORs (AOR): 2.22, 95% CI: 1.65 to 3.00). Belief that treatment can control HCV (AOR: 1.75, 95% CI: 1.35 to 2.26) and having negative emotions related to HCV (AOR: 1.59, 95% CI: 1.25 to 2.03) were also positively associated with HCV testing uptake.Targeted health promotion efforts are needed to increase HCV testing among MSM in Hong Kong. Healthcare workers engaged in HCV-related programming should consider modifying the illness representations of HCV. Integrating HCV and HIV testing services may also be beneficial.