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Alternative HIV testing methods among populations at high risk for HIV infection.

Public health reports (Washington, D.C. : 1974)

Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, HIV Infections, diagnosis, ethnology, psychology, virology, Health Education, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, Male, Humans, United States, Interviews as Topic, Male, Middle Aged, Mouth Mucosa, Reagent Kits, Diagnostic, classification, utilization, Risk Factors, Substance Abuse, Intravenous, Adult

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      The purpose of this study was to determine the levels of awareness and use of alternative HIV tests (home collection kit, oral mucosal transudate collection kit, and rapid tests) among people at high risk for HIV infection. Data were collected as part of an anonymous, cross-sectional interview study--the HIV Testing Survey (HITS)--conducted in seven states from September 2000 to February 2001. Three high-risk populations were recruited: men who have sex with men, injection drug users, and high-risk heterosexuals. Respondents were asked about their awareness and use of alternative HIV tests. The overall awareness and use of the alternative tests was limited: 54% of respondents were aware of the home collection kit, 42% were aware of the oral mucosal transudate collection kit test, and 13% were aware of rapid tests. Among those aware of alternative tests, self-reported use of the tests was also low. The most common reasons given for not using alternative HIV tests were: preference for the standard test; concern that the results could be less accurate; and that alternative tests were not offered. The low levels of awareness and use of alternative HIV tests suggest that the potential for promoting testing among individuals at high risk for HIV by encouraging use of alternative HIV tests has not been fully realized. Alternative tests should be made more broadly available and should be accompanied by education about these tests for physicians and people at risk. Educational efforts should be evaluated to determine if promoting alternative HIV tests increases the numbers of people at risk for HIV who are tested.

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