HIV Knowledge and Attitudes toward HIV Testing of South Side Chicago Housing Authority Residents

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High HIV infection rates in the United States are increasingly due to heterosexual risk behaviors, with increased rates in blacks and women. A survey of HIV knowledge and attitudes about HIV testing was conducted in an inner-city public housing population that included a convenience sample of residents of South Side Chicago Housing Authority facilities. The questionnaire addressed knowledge about HIV transmission and disease, health care options, condom use, prior HIV testing, and preferred places for HIV testing and education. Five hundred residents, ages 13-50 years completed the survey, during the period from November 2002 until April 2003. Eighty-three percent of the respondents were female and 50% of those surveyed were from 18-30 years of age. Race/ethnicity was not questioned in order to improve response rate. A comparable sample conducted earlier showed that population was 99% black race. Most respondents were knowledgeable about HIV transmission risk factors, although misinformation about transmission, treatment and prevention existed. Knowledge that HIV therapy is available was high (71%), while 25% thought an HIV vaccine was available and 13% thought there was a cure for HIV. Two thirds of sexually active respondents reported condom use in the past year. Three quarters reported previous testing for HIV and 90% of those tested returned for results. Most respondents wanted to learn more about HIV risk factors, testing and treatment but preferred primary care clinics to specialized places for HIV testing. Targeted HIV education interventions in the public housing facilities or primary care clinics are warranted.

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