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AIDS Care. 2001 Oct;13(5):561-77.

Drug users talk about HIV testing: motivating and deterring factors.

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Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco, 94105, USA.


Injection drug use plays a critical role in the spread of HIV/AIDS, with an estimated 19,000 drug users infected each year. Counselling and testing services can be an important gateway for engaging HIV-infected individuals into medical care and can positively influence the preventive behaviours of IDUs. This study seeks to document and understand the complexity and range of motivations and deterrents to HIV testing among IDUs. Participants were recruited using a convenience sampling method. Interviews consisted of a qualitative guide and a quantitative survey to collect HIV testing histories, sex and drug risk behaviours, and demographic information. Interview data was coded and content analyzed to identify emerging themes and clarify the processes that drug users employ in deciding whether or not to test. Sixty-six drug users were interviewed. The sample reported a median of four lifetime HIV tests. Participants described a range of motivating and deterring factors to HIV testing across personal, interpersonal and structural categories. Drug users' decision to test is influenced by a complex network of factors. Better understanding of these motivators and deterrents can help providers develop a more holistic approach to targeting this high-risk population for HIV prevention efforts.

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