Many High-Risk Older Black Women Are Uninterested in Receiving HIV Tests, Study Finds
Few women older than age 50, particularly black women, find it necessary to undergo testing for HIV even though many of the women have a moderate- to high-risk of exposure, according to a study published in the Journal of Women's Health, United Press International reports.
The study, led by Aletha Akers of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, involved 514 Atlanta, Ga., women ages 50 to 95 during an 11-month period in 2001 and 2002. The women completed a 68-item questionnaire about their attitudes regarding lifetime HIV infection risk and interest in being tested for HIV. Most of the women said they were not currently sexually active (UPI, 8/7).
According to the study, more than 60% of the participants had never been tested for HIV. However, more than 50% of the women were considered to have moderate- to high-risk for HIV exposure, the study found. Twenty-two percent said they would be interested in receiving an HIV test. The study also found that women with limited knowledge about HIV and a perceived low risk of exposure were less interested in being tested. "Those who lacked interest were more likely to be older, African-American and not sexually active," Akers said, adding, "These women had a low perceived risk, which was not always accurate based on their histories."
One-third of the participants who were not interested in HIV testing reported lifetime risk factors for the disease, Akers said. "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," Akers said. She added, "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" (ANI/DailyIndia.com, 8/8).
An abstract of the study is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.