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Glob Public Health. 2015 Aug 28:1-17. [Epub ahead of print]

Barriers and facilitators to voluntary HIV testing uptake among communities at high risk of HIV exposure in Chennai, India.

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1
a Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work , Wilfrid Laurier University , Kitchener , Ontario , Canada.

Abstract

In India, increasing uptake of voluntary HIV testing among 'core risk groups' is a national public health priority. While HIV testing uptake has been studied among key populations in India, limited information is available on multi-level barriers and facilitators to HIV testing, and experiences with free, publicly available testing services, among key populations. We conducted 12 focus groups (nā€‰=ā€‰84) and 12 key informant interviews to explore these topics among men who have sex with men, transgender women, cisgender female sex workers, and injecting drug users in the city of Chennai. We identified inter-related barriers at social-structural, health-care system, interpersonal, and individual levels. Barriers included HIV stigma, marginalised-group stigma, discrimination in health-care settings, including government testing centres, and fears of adverse social consequences of testing HIV positive. Facilitators included outreach programmes operated by community-based/non-governmental organisations, accurate HIV knowledge and risk perception for HIV, and access to drug dependence treatment for injecting drug users. Promoting HIV testing among these key populations requires interventions at several levels: reducing HIV-related and marginalised-group stigma, addressing the fears of consequences of testing, promoting pro-testing peer and social norms, providing options for rapid and non-blood-based HIV tests, and ensuring non-judgmental and culturally competent HIV counselling and testing services.

KEYWORDS:

HIV prevention; India; health-care access; marginalised populations; socio-ecological framework

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