Overcoming barriers to HIV testing: Preferences for new strategies among clients of a needle exchange, a sexually transmitted disease clinic, and sex venues for men who have sex with men

Freya Spielberg, Bernard M. Branson, Gary M. Goldbaum, David Lockhart, Ann Kurth, Connie L. Celum, Anthony Rossini, Cathy W. Critchlow, Robert W. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: To determine strategies to overcome barriers to HIV testing among persons at risk. Methods: We developed a survey that elicited testing motivators, barriers, and preferences for new strategies among 460 participants at a needle exchange, three sex venues for men who have sex with men, and a sexually transmitted disease clinic. Results: Barriers to testing included factors influenced by individual concern (fear and discrimination); by programs, policies, and laws (named reporting and inability to afford treatment); and by counseling and testing strategies (dislike of counseling, anxiety waiting for results, and venipuncture). The largest proportions of participants preferred rapid testing strategies, including clinic-based testing (27%) and home selftesting (20%); roughly equal proportions preferred oral fluid testing (18%), urine testing (17%), and standard blood testing (17%). One percent preferred home specimen collection. Participants who had never tested before were significantly more likely to prefer home self-testing compared with other strategies. Blacks were significantly more likely to prefer urine testing. Conclusions: Strategies for improving acceptance of HIV counseling and testing include information about access to anonymous testing and early treatment. Expanding options for rapid testing, urine testing, and home self-testing; providing alternatives to venipuncture; making pretest counseling optional; and allowing telephone results disclosure may encourage more persons to learn their HIV status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-327
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2003



  • HIV
  • HIV counseling preferences
  • HIV prevention
  • HIV testing barriers
  • HIV testing preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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