High-Risk Older Black Women Are Uninterested In Receiving HIV Tests

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Few women older than age 50, particularly black women, find itnecessary to undergo testing for HIV even though many of the women havea moderate- to high-risk of exposure, according to a study published inthe Journal of Women's Health, United Press International reports.

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The study, led by Aletha Akers of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine,involved 514 Atlanta, Ga., women ages 50 to 95 during an 11-monthperiod in 2001 and 2002. The women completed a 68-item questionnaireabout their attitudes regarding lifetime HIV infection risk andinterest in being tested for HIV. Most of the women said they were notcurrently sexually active (UPI, 8/7).

According tothe study, more than 60% of the participants had never been tested forHIV. However, more than 50% of the women were considered to havemoderate- to high-risk for HIV exposure, the study found. Twenty-twopercent said they would be interested in receiving an HIV test. Thestudy also found that women with limited knowledge about HIV and aperceived low risk of exposure were less interested in being tested."Those who lacked interest were more likely to be older,African-American and not sexually active," Akers said, adding, "Thesewomen had a low perceived risk, which was not always accurate based ontheir histories."

One-third of the participants who were notinterested in HIV testing reported lifetime risk factors for thedisease, Akers said. "Yet, in part because of a lack of education andprevention efforts targeted at older populations, older women appear tobe less capable of accurately assessing their lifetime risk of HIV evenwhen they have significant risk factors and live in communities withhigh rates of infection," Akers said. She added, "We need to designprevention strategies and AIDS education for this vulnerable populationand help providers to incorporate HIV risk screening into the servicesoffered to older women from high-prevalence communities" (ANI/DailyIndia.com, 8/8).
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