, Volume 17, Issue 8, pp 2742-2755
Date: 01 Aug 2013

Multilevel Stigma as a Barrier to HIV Testing in Central Asia: A Context Quantified

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Abstract

Central Asia is experiencing one of the fastest growing HIV epidemics in the world, with some areas’ infection rates doubling yearly since 2000. This study examines the impact of multilevel stigma (individual, family, and community) on uptake of HIV testing and receipt of HIV testing results among women in Central Asia. The sample consists of 38,884 ever-married, Central Asian women between the ages of 15 and 49. Using multilevel modeling (MLM), HIV stigma variables at the individual, family, and community levels were used to assess the significance of differences in HIV testing and receipt of HIV test results among participants while adjusting for possible confounding factors, such as age, wealth, and education. MLM results indicate that HIV stigma is significantly associated with decreased HIV testing uptake at the individual, family, and community levels and with a decrease in receipt at the community level. A one standard deviation increase in individual, family, and community level composite stigma score was associated with a respective 49 %, 59 %, and 94 % (p < 0.001) decrease in the odds of having been tested for HIV. A one standard deviation increase in community composite stigma score was associated with a 99 % (p < 0.001) decrease in the odds of test receipt. HIV stigma operates on the individual, family, and community levels to hinder HIV testing uptake and at the community level to hinder receipt. These findings have important interventions implications to improve uptake of HIV testing and receipt of HIV test results.