and behavioural predictors and prevalence of HIV testing behaviours among youth
in three high prevalence Caribbean countries
University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
Background: HIV/ AIDS is the leading cause of death
among young adults in the Caribbean and only about one-third of the youth
living with HIV are aware of their status yet little is known about their HIV
testing behaviours. This study describes the patterns of and examines the
factors associated with HIV testing among sexually experienced Caribbean youth
in countries: Guyana, Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Methods: Using nationally representative surveys, subsamples of sexually
experienced young adults aged 15 to 24 years were selected as follows: 875 in
Guyana; 12,418 in Dominican Republic and 4,199 in Haiti. The outcome was ever
tested for HIV/AIDS and independent factors examined were: socio-demographic
control factors, risk behaviours, exposure to media and psychosocial variables.
Bivariate and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used which
accounted for the multistage complex design of the survey.
Results: The proportion of youth ever tested was 48% in Dominican
Republic, 37% in Guyana and 17% in Haiti. In each country males were
consistently less likely to test than females. Of those who tested, client initiated
testing was highest in Haiti (54%), 42% in Guyana and 32% in Dominican
Republic. In each country, currently married, formerly married youth, youth
with larger number of lifetime partners, who had their sexual debut at an older
age and who knew someone who had or died from HIV, had increased odds of
testing than others. Rural youth in Haiti and Guyana were less likely to test
than urban youth.
Conclusions: Low proportions of sexually active Caribbean youth had ever
tested and were unaware of their HIV status. The needs of specific categories
of youth such as males, unmarried, youth holding stigma attitudes and rural
residents should be considered when designing interventions to improve HIV
testing uptake. Policy implications are discussed.
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