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Health Educ Behav. 2011 Oct;38(5):462-70. doi: 10.1177/1090198110382501. Epub 2011 Apr 4.

Why take an HIV test? Concerns, benefits, and strategies to promote HIV testing among low-income heterosexual African American young adults.

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  • 1Epidemiology Branch, Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention-Surveillance and Epidemiology, National Center for HIV/STID, and TB Prevention, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA.


A qualitative study examined perceptions of HIV testing and strategies to enhance HIV testing among HIV-negative African American heterosexual young adults (ages 18-25 years). Twenty-six focus groups (13 male groups, 13 female groups) were conducted in two low-income communities (urban and rural). All sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed. Data analysis was completed using AnSWR software. Many participants expressed that learning one's HIV status, regardless of the result, was a benefit of taking an HIV test because this was perceived to produce emotional relief. Additional benefits included the avoidance of unknowingly spreading the virus, being offered treatment access if HIV-positive, and taking time to assess and modify risky sexual behaviors if HIV-negative. If diagnosed HIV-positive, HIV testing concerns included the recognition of one's mortality, the experience of social stigma, and concerns about accessing affordable treatment. Recommended promotion strategies included the use of HIV-positive individuals, pop culture icons, and the media to promote HIV testing messages.

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