Objectives Black Africans are one of the key risk groups for HIV in the UK and, among those living with HIV, an estimated 16% and 12% of black African heterosexual men and women, respectively, are undiagnosed and at risk of unknowingly transmitting HIV to their sex partners. Increased HIV test uptake is needed to address this, but there is limited information on how frequently HIV test refusal occurs among those attending sexual health clinics (SHCs). We identified factors associated with HIV test refusal among black African SHC attendees.
Methods Data on all SHC attendances in England in 2014 were obtained from the genitourinary medicine clinic activity dataset, the mandatory surveillance system for STIs. Analyses were restricted to attendances by HIV-negative black Africans, and bivariate and multivariable associations between demographic and clinical characteristics and HIV test refusal were assessed. All associations were determined using generalised estimating equations logistic regression, and adjusted ORs (aORs) with 95% CIs are reported.
Results Black Africans made 80 743 attendances at SHCs in 2014 and refused an HIV test on 9021 (11.2%) occasions. HIV test refusal was significantly more likely in women (aOR (95% CI) 1.54 (1.46 to 1.62) vs heterosexual men), and those living in the most deprived areas (1.44 (1.24 to 1.67)), diagnosed with a new STI (1.26 (1.18 to 1.34)) or living in London (1.06 (1.01 to 1.12)). Test refusal was significantly less likely with increasing age (0.99 (0.99 to 0.99)) and men who have sex with men (0.52 (0.43 to 0.63) vs heterosexual men), and in those tested for HIV in the past year (0.85 (0.81 to 0.89)), born outside the UK (0.73 (0.69 to 0.77)) or those attending following partner notification (0.11 (0.03 to 0.38)).
Conclusions Targeted interventions are needed to improve HIV testing uptake and reduce undiagnosed HIV infection among black Africans attending SHCs, especially heterosexuals residing in deprived areas.
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