HIV testing practices in Jamaica

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Abstract

Objectives

Prevention programmes often promote HIV testing as one possible strategy for combating the spread of the disease. The objectives of the present study were to examine levels of HIV testing practices in a large sample of Jamaicans and the relationships among HIV testing, sociodemographic variables and HIV-related behaviours.

Methods

A total of 1800 persons, aged 15–49 years, were surveyed between May and August 2004 using a household-level, interviewer-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire included HIV-related knowledge, attitudinal and behavioural items. For the present analyses, data from 1558 sexually experienced persons were examined.

Results

Approximately 38% of the sexually experienced sample reported a history of HIV testing. Hierarchical logistic regression analyses revealed that adults, females, persons with post-high school education and married persons were more likely to report previous HIV testing. Also, those who had attended an HIV/AIDS education workshop or discussion and those who reported knowing persons living with HIV/AIDS were more likely to report previous testing. However, HIV testing was not associated with condom use or with the number of sexual partners.

Conclusions

The lack of significant findings establishing a relationship between testing and risky sexual behaviours should not negate the importance of HIV testing. Being informed regarding personal HIV serostatus is one of the first steps in self-protection. Effective messages and programmes promoting HIV testing need to be developed and implemented in Jamaica, in order to educate people about how to assess their level of risk with respect to contracting HIV infection.

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