August 15, 2011
The failure to perceive they were at risk was the chief barrier to HIV testing among this study's population of persons who were diagnosed with AIDS when they first learned they were HIV-positive.
The team undertook the study to assess barriers to HIV testing, health care contacts history and HIV testing history among patients diagnosed concurrently with HIV and AIDS. The researchers surveyed concurrently diagnosed patients who had participated in the partner notification program of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from January 2008 to December 2008.
The interviewees' most commonly volunteered reason for not testing (64 percent of participants) was that they did not believe they were at risk for HIV. When they were read a list of potential barriers, 69 percent of respondents replied affirmatively that they did not get tested for HIV because they did not believe they were at risk. Fifty-two percent replied affirmatively that they did not test because they thought their behaviors kept them safe from HIV.
Half the participants reported having insurance during all or part of the year before they were diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. Seventy percent had at least one health care visit in the year before they were diagnosed.
"A lack of perception of risk was the most common reason for not testing for HIV sooner among these concurrently diagnosed patients," the authors concluded. "The majority of these patients were accessing medical care, indicating that this population could have benefited from routine HIV testing."