Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of, and identify factors associated with, HIV testing in Britain.
Design: A large, stratified probability sample survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles.
Methods: A total of 12,110 16-44 year olds completed a computer-assisted face-to-face interview and self-interview. Self-reports of HIV testing, i.e. the timing, reasons for and location of testing, were included.
Results: A total of 32.4% of men and 31.7% of women reported ever having had an HIV test, the majority of whom were tested through blood donation. When screening for blood donation and pregnancy were excluded, 9.0% of men and 4.6% of women had had a voluntary confidential HIV test (VCT) in the past 5 years. However, one third of injecting drug users and men who have sex with men had a VCT in the past 5 years. VCT in the past 5 years was significantly associated with age, residence, ethnicity, self-perceived HIV risk, reporting greater numbers of sexual partners, new sexual partners from abroad, previous sexually transmitted infection diagnosis, and injecting non-prescribed drugs for men and women, and same-sex partners (men only). Whereas sexually transmitted disease clinics were important sites for VCT, general practice accounted for almost a quarter of VCT.
Conclusion: HIV testing is relatively common in Britain; however, it remains largely associated with population-based blood donation and antenatal screening programmes. In contrast, VCT remains highly associated with high-risk (sexual or drug-injecting) behaviours or population sub-groups at high risk. Strategies to reduce undiagnosed prevalent HIV infection will require further normalization and wider uptake of HIV testing.