STI testing and subsequent clinic attendance amongst test negative asymptomatic users of an internet STI testing service: one-year retrospective study

Oluseyi Ayinde*, Louise Jackson, Jara Phattey, Jonathan D C Ross

*Corresponding author for this work

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AIM: To explore the characteristics of online STI test users, and assess the frequency and factors associated with subsequent service use following a negative online STI test screen in individuals without symptoms.

METHODS: One-year retrospective study of online and clinic STI testing within a large integrated sexual health service (Umbrella in Birmingham and Solihull, England) between January and December 2017. A multivariable analysis of sociodemographic and behavioural characteristics of patients was conducted. Sexual health clinic appointments occurring within 90 days of a negative STI test, in asymptomatic individuals who tested either online or in clinic were determined. Factors associated with online STI testing and subsequent clinic use were determined using generalized estimating equations and reported as odds ratios (OR) with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI).

RESULTS: 31 847 online STI test requests and 40 059 clinic attendances incorporating STI testing were included. 79% (25020/31846) of online STI test users and 49% (19672/40059) of clinic STI test takers were asymptomatic. Online STI testing was less utilised (p<0.05) by men who have sex with men (MSM), non-Caucasians and those living in neighborhoods of greater deprivation. Subsequent clinic appointments within 90 days of an asymptomatic negative STI test occurred in 6.2% (484/7769) of the online testing group and 33% (4960/15238) for the clinic tested group. Re-attendance following online testing was associated with being MSM (aOR 2.55[1.58 to 4.09]-MSM vs Female) and a recent prior history of STI testing (aOR 5.65[4.30 to 7.43] 'clinic tested' vs 'No' recent testing history).

CONCLUSIONS: Subsequent clinic attendance amongst online STI test service users with negative test results was infrequent, suggesting that their needs were being met without placing an additional burden on clinic based services. However, unequal use of online services by different patient groups suggests that optimised messaging and the development of online services in partnership with users are required to improve uptake.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0281359
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright: © 2023 Ayinde et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


  • Male
  • Humans
  • Female
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases/diagnosis
  • HIV Infections/diagnosis
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sexual and Gender Minorities
  • Internet
  • Computer and information sciences
  • Medicine and health sciences
  • Biology and life sciences
  • Research Article


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