Developing a model of the experience of individuals who have self-tested as positive for HIV

Naomi Gibson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Self-testing is a new form of HIV testing introduced to the UK in 2015. A key aim of self-testing is to expand access to testing through reducing barriers for individuals at risk of HIV infection. Self-testing has been shown to be highly acceptable to the key populations at risk of HIV in the UK, namely, Black African men and women, and men who have sex with men (MSM). The vast majority of evidence within the self-testing field relates to the acceptability of self-testing for key populations. As the availability of self-testing increases globally it is important to have a psychological understanding of the pre- and post-self-test experiences of individuals who test positive from this form of testing. This study investigated the key psychological processes involved with self-testing in people testing positive for HIV, for example, choosing to self-test, testing positive from a self-test, linking to HIV care, HIV disclosure, adjustment,
coping, and adapting to any relationship changes.
The aim of this Grounded Theory (Charmaz, 2014) study was to explore, and create a model of, the experience of individuals who had received a positive self-test result, and a diagnosis of HIV. Seven MSM aged between 25–53 years were recruited via a nationwide charity pilot project which was designed to send out free self-tests, and was advertised via Grindr, Facebook and the charity website.
Five theoretical codes were identified from the semi-structured interviews and subsequent analysis, and are presented in a theoretical model of the experience of individuals who test positive from a self-test:
1. Self-testing as a purposeful choice
2. Reflecting on the self-testing experience
3. Feeling shock and disbelief
4. Coping with HIV
5. Attempting to move forwards as a sexual person
The findings are discussed with regards to future research and the clinical implications
for self-testing, and personal reflections are offered.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Evangeli, Michael, Supervisor
Award date1 Nov 2017
Publication statusUnpublished - 11 Sept 2017


  • self-testing
  • HIV
  • HIV testing
  • MSM
  • Grounded Theory
  • HIV self-testing

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