Introduction The Black Caribbean population have a disproportionately high burden of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) compared with other ethnic groups (Public Health England, 2020). The aim of this study was to explore barriers to engagement with STI testing within a UK-based Young Adult Black Caribbean community.
Methods Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 14 young adults from the Black Caribbean community and six sexual health professionals recruited via a UK-based NHS sexual health clinic and local University. Data were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. A focus group of 5 young adults was conducted to refine themes generated from interviews.
Results Data analysis generated four themes (1) culturally embedded stigma, (2) historically embedded mistrust, (3) limitations in knowledge, (4) STI-testing as a forbidden subject. Perceived as “dirty”, particularly for females, STI-testing was stigmatised by religious conceptions of “purity” and shame. Legacies of colonialism, medical racism and malpractice informed young people’s mistrust of medical intervention and trust in confidentiality of data management. A lack of knowledge related to STIs and treatment and accessing and performing STI tests further served as a barrier. Finally, young people identified challenges in terms of cultural acceptability of talking about STI testing with partners, friends, and family.
Discussion Historically and culturally embedded experiences and beliefs, often passed down through generations, impacted engagement with STI testing for young adults from the Black Caribbean community. Targeting these factors within culturally tailored interventions may be more effective for increasing STI-testing (and thus reducing rates of STI-infection) in this population.
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