A Decline in HIV Testing Among Persons Who Inject Drugs in the Seattle Area, 2004–2015

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Promoting HIV testing is a key component of the public health response to HIV. Assessing HIV testing frequency among persons who inject drugs (PWID) monitors the status of these efforts and can identify unmet needs and opportunities to more effectively promote testing.


Data were combined from 4 Seattle-area surveys of PWID from the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) program (2005–2015) and 6 surveys of Needle Exchange clients (2004–2015).


The proportion of PWID reporting an HIV test in the previous 12 months declined from 64% in 2005% to 47% in 2015 in the NHBS surveys and from 72% to 58% in the Needle Exchange surveys. These declines persisted in multivariate analyses controlling for differences in the study populations in age, race, sex, area of residence, education, current homelessness, drug most frequently injected, daily injection frequency, and combined male-to-male sex and amphetamine injection status. The proportion of NHBS participants reporting not knowing the HIV status of their last injection partner increased from 38% to 45%. The proportion not knowing the HIV status of their last sex partner increased from 27% to 38%.


A decrease in HIV testing was found in 2 independent Seattle-area study populations. This was complemented by increases in the proportions not knowing the HIV status of their last sex and last injection partners. Research is needed to ascertain if such declines are observed elsewhere, the reasons for the decline, and appropriate means to effectively attain optimal HIV testing frequency among PWID.

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