Actual Versus Perceived HIV Testing Norms, and Personal HIV Testing Uptake: A Cross-Sectional, Population-Based Study in Rural Uganda

AIDS Behav. 2018 Feb;22(2):616-628. doi: 10.1007/s10461-017-1691-z.


HIV testing is an essential part of treatment and prevention. Using population-based data from 1664 adults across eight villages in rural Uganda, we assessed individuals' perception of the norm for HIV testing uptake in their village and compared it to the actual uptake norm. In addition, we examined how perception of the norm was associated with personal testing while adjusting for other factors. Although the majority of people had been tested for HIV across all villages, slightly more than half of men and women erroneously thought that the majority in their village had never been tested. They underestimated the prevalence of HIV testing uptake by 42 percentage points (s.d. = 17 percentage points), on average. Among men, perceiving that HIV testing was not normative was associated with never testing for HIV (AOR = 2.6; 95% CI 1.7-4.0, p < 0.001). Results suggest an opportunity for interventions to emphasize the commonness of HIV testing uptake.

Keywords: HIV testing; Perception; Social norms; Stigma; Uganda.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Serodiagnosis / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception
  • Population Surveillance / methods*
  • Prevalence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Rural Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Population*
  • Social Norms*
  • Uganda / epidemiology
  • Young Adult