Patterns and Correlates of HIV Testing Among Sheltered and Low-Income Housed Women In Los Angeles County

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This study investigated the prevalence, location, and correlates of HIV testing in a random sample of women drawn from shelters (n = 460) and low-income housing units (n = 438) in Los Angeles County. Most women (83%) had been tested for HIV, with the most common location being a clinic or physician's office (82%). Sheltered women were more likely to have ever been tested and, among those tested, to have been tested in a treatment program, mobile van, hospital or emergency department, or jail. Multivariate analyses indicated that testing was more likely among women who were sampled from shelters, younger, living with a child, had a regular source of medical care, were drug or alcohol dependent in the past year, experienced sexual violence, and were at low risk for mental health problems. Few women reported lack of money, transportation, or access to testing facilities as primary barriers to being tested. Although our results suggest that most impoverished women in our study area did not experience significant impediments to HIV testing, programs to encourage testing among older women, stably housed women who lack a regular source of care, and women at high risk for mental health problems may be warranted.

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