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 self-testing (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.