Repeat HIV Testing and HIV Transmission Risk Behaviors Among Sexually Transmitted Infection Clinic Patients

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Abstract

HIV testing and counseling expends considerable HIV prevention resources and offers great opportunities for HIV risk reduction. Individuals who are at risk for HIV and have not been HIV tested are the focus of current targeted testing campaigns and yet persons who are repeatedly tested for HIV often continue engaging in high-risk practices. This study examined HIV testing, risk behaviors, and other medical diagnostic testing practices of men (N = 231) and women (N = 86) attending an inner-city sexually transmitted infections (STI) clinic. Results showed that 75 (23%) participants had not yet been tested for HIV, 45 (14%) had been tested once, and 197 (63%) had been tested two or more times. Patients that had not been tested and those who were repeatedly tested were similar in their risk behaviors; both demonstrated significantly greater risks for HIV than persons tested just once, although repeat testers were more likely to have had a past STI. HIV testing history was minimally associated with other medical testing and health protective practices, such as testicular self-examination, mammography, and having had PAP tests. Results support targeting high-risk untested persons for HIV testing and suggest an urgent need for interventions to reduce risk behaviors among STI clinic patients who repeatedly test for HIV.

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