Many Skip Getting An
HIV Test For Fear Of The Result
Fear of a positive test result is the number one reason why some high-risk individuals avoid HIV testing, according to a federal survey released Wednesday. But some homosexual men said not wanting their names reported to the government is their primary reason for skipping the tests, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The main factor for delaying or not getting tested was fear of a positive test result, reported by 25 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
The Survey underscores the need to continue government funding for anonymous HIV testing, even as the agency asks states to start keeping names of people who get treated for the virus that causes AIDS, the CDC said.
Earlier this month, the CDC published new recommendations in which it asked all states to begin reporting HIV cases either with the person's name or an identifying code. The CDC says the information will help health officials track HIV cases before they become full-blown AIDS. But some AIDS activists believe privacy concerns will steer some people away from being tested at all.
For the new study, the CDC surveyed 556 people in nine states in late 1995 and 1996 who were considered at high risk for HIV but said they had not been tested. They included homosexuals, intravenous drug users and heterosexuals recruited from clinics for sexually transmitted diseases.
The main factors for delaying or not getting tested were:
* Fear of a positive test result, reported by 25 percent of those who had not been tested and 23 percent of those who had delayed testing * Thinking that they were HIV negative (reported by 13 percent and 11 percent respectively) * Thinking they were unlikely to have been exposed to HIV (18 percent and 10 percent respectively) * Not wanting to think about the possibility of being HIV-positive (8 percent and 9 percent respectively) * Thinking there was little they could do about it if they were HIV positive (6 percent and 4 percent respectively).
Nineteen percent of the respondents who had never been tested for HIV listed concern about their name being reported to the government as one of many reasons they did not get tested, but only 2 percent listed this as the main reason for not being tested.
This concern was highest among gay men, with 4 percent listing it as the main factor for not being tested. Gay men living in states that already report names were more concerned about privacy. Thirty-five percent of that group said name reporting was one reason they avoided testing.