208158 Reasons for seeking HIV testing at a public testing event

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sharlene T. Beckford Jarrett, PhD , National HIV/STI Programme, Ministry Of Health, Kingston, Jamaica
Jacqueline Duncan, MD , National HIV/STI Programme, Ministry Of Health, Kingston, Jamaica
Kevin Harvey, MB BS, MS , National HIV/STI Programme, Ministry Of Health, Kingston, Jamaica
Outreach HIV Testing is a key strategy in Jamaica's National Response to HIV/AIDS, but little is known about the risk behaviours of persons who access outreach testing or their reasons for testing. The present study assessed reasons persons tested at outreach events, their previous testing behaviour, and sexual risk behaviours. The goal was to assess whether high-risk persons are accessing outreach testing.

Pre-test counsellors offered the questionnaire to each person at the beginning of their pre-test counselling session at a World AIDS Day testing event.

530 persons (352 Females and 178 Males) completed the interviewer administered survey. The majority of the participants (90.4%) were sexually active, with an average of 2.2 partners, in the past year. 62 % of participants were repeat testers, and 26% of the total had tested in the past 12 months. The most common reasons given for seeking HIV testing were ‘just wanted to know' (66.0%), ‘testing is free' (18.5%), and ‘recent risk behaviour' (6.2%). Consistent condom use was low with main partners and non-regular partners. 7.2% reported being diagnosed with an STI, 2.1% received cash for sex and 1.9% paid for sex in the past 12 months.

Outreach testing reaches persons who may be at high risk for HIV infection through multiple partners and inconsistent condom use. However, participants did not cite these risk factors as reasons for testing. An important next step for the National programme will be to infuse this knowledge on risk behaviours into pre and post test counselling during VCT.

Learning Objectives:
1) Explain reasons why persons may seek HIV testing at public events 2) Describe risk behaviours among persons who test at public events 3) Discuss ways to integrate survey findings on risk behaviours into pre and post test counselling 4) Formulate strategies to increase the participation of those at highest risk in public testing events.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Experience in conducting HIV/AIDS research, publishing articles in this field, and providing counselling to persons seeking testing as well as PLHIV
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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