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Even older women at high risk have little interest in being tested for HIV, study finds

nd concern about a current or past sexual partners behaviors. About a third of women had already been tested. Previously tested women were more likely to be younger, sexually active, better educated about HIV and tested at the suggestion of a health care provider.

Most women, however, felt little need for testing. Those who lacked interest were more likely to be older, African-American and not sexually active, said Dr. Akers, who also is an assistant investigator at the university-affiliated Magee-Womens Research Institute. These women had a low perceived risk, which was not always accurate based on their histories. A third of all the women who were not interested in HIV testing reported lifetime risk factors for the disease, but we found that they tended to point to those people when talking about the danger of HIV rather than at themselves or their partners.

In short, women with little HIV knowledge and low perceived personal risk were less interested in HIV testing, a finding that is consistent with attitudes in much younger, high-risk adults, the study found. Fewer than 25 percent of the participants could recall ever receiving counsel to get a test for HIV from a provider, despite their risk factors.

Yet, in part because of a lack of education and prevention efforts targeted at older populations, older women appear to be less capable of accurately assessing their lifetime risk of HIV even when they have significant risk factors and live in communities with high rates of infection, Dr. Akers said. We need to design prevention strategies and AIDS education for this vulnerable population and help providers to incorporate HIV risk screening into the services offered to older women from high-prevalence communities.


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Contact: Michele D. Baum
BaumMD@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
7-Aug-2007


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