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HIV-positive Women Living in the Metropolitan Toronto Area: Their Experiences and Perceptions Related to HIV Testing

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Abstract

Forty HIV-positive women from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds were interviewed. Most (90%) did not perceive themselves to be at risk of HIV infection prior to knowing their HIV-positive status. The majority (61%) were tested because they developed symptoms, or because someone with whom they were intimate, or their child, tested positive for HIV or became ill. The majority (93%) of the women interviewed indicated that they did not receive both pre- and post-test counselling.

The findings from this study suggest that encouraging individuals to be tested if they have engaged in “at risk” activities will not be appropriate for individuals who have no perception of risk, and other strategies to encourage appropriate testing may be needed. This research also suggests that continued emphasis needs to be placed on the counselling process, and that consideration may need to be given to multiple counselling sessions to ensure individuals clearly understand the information provided.

Résumé

Quarante femmes séropositives au VIH issues de milieux socioéconomiques divers ont été interviewées. La majorité d’entre elles (90 %) ne se percevaient pas comme courant des risques d’infection par le VIH avant d’apprendre leur sérodiagnostic. La plupart (61 %) ont fait l’objet d’un dépistage soit en raison de l’apparition de symptômes, soit parce que leur enfant ou une personne avec laquelle elles entretenaient des relations intimes était séropositif au VIH ou bien était tombé malade. La majorité des femmes interviewées (93 %) ont indiqué qu’elles n’avaient pas bénéficié des deux types de counselling, à savoir tant avant qu’après le test de dépistage.

Les résultats de cette étude tendent à montrer qu’encourager les individus à se faire dépister s’ils ont pris part à des activités «à risque» ne convient pas aux personnes qui ne perçoivent pas les risques et qu’il peut être nécessaire de mettre au point d’autres stratégies pour favoriser le dépistage. Cette étude indique également qu’il faut continuer d’insister sur le counselling et qu’il peut être nécessaire d’envisager de multiples séances de counselling pour s’assurer que les individus comprennent clairement l’information qui leur est donnée.

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Author information

Correspondence to Lois A. Jackson PhD.

Additional information

This research was funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health (Grant #04818F) and Burroughs Wellcome Positive Action Programme

During this work Dr. Millson received support from the City of Toronto Department of Public Health, Dr. Calzavara was supported by a National Health Scholar award, and Dr. Strathdee by a National Health and Welfare Post-doctoral award

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Jackson, L.A., Millson, P., Calzavara, L. et al. HIV-positive Women Living in the Metropolitan Toronto Area: Their Experiences and Perceptions Related to HIV Testing. Can J Public Health 88, 18–22 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03403852

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