Background. Crowdsourcing, the process of shifting individual tasks to a large group, may enhance human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing interventions. We conducted a noninferiority, randomized controlled trial to compare first-time HIV testing rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender individuals who received a crowdsourced or a health marketing HIV test promotion video.
Methods. Seven hundred twenty-one MSM and transgender participants (≥16 years old, never before tested for HIV) were recruited through 3 Chinese MSM Web portals and randomly assigned to 1 of 2 videos. The crowdsourced video was developed using an open contest and formal transparent judging while the evidence-based health marketing video was designed by experts. Study objectives were to measure HIV test uptake within 3 weeks of watching either HIV test promotion video and cost per new HIV test and diagnosis.
Results. Overall, 624 of 721 (87%) participants from 31 provinces in 217 Chinese cities completed the study. HIV test uptake was similar between the crowdsourced arm (37% [114/307]) and the health marketing arm (35% [111/317]). The estimated difference between the interventions was 2.1% (95% confidence interval, −5.4% to 9.7%). Among those tested, 31% (69/225) reported a new HIV diagnosis. The crowdsourced intervention cost substantially less than the health marketing intervention per first-time HIV test (US$131 vs US$238 per person) and per new HIV diagnosis (US$415 vs US$799 per person).
Conclusions. Our nationwide study demonstrates that crowdsourcing may be an effective tool for improving HIV testing messaging campaigns and could increase community engagement in health campaigns.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT02248558.