HIV rapid testing in the framework of an STI prevention project on a cohort of vulnerable Italians and immigrants

Ilaria Uccella, Alessio Petrelli, Maria Fenicia Vescio, Silvia De Carolis, Cecilia Fazioli, Patrizio Pezzotti, Gianni Rezza

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Abstract

Introduction: Uptake of HIV tests is a challenging issue in vulnerable populations including immigrants, normally using standard diagnostic tools. Objectives of this study were to evaluate the acceptability of HIV rapid test; estimate the percentage of newly HIV diagnoses and evaluate knowledge, attitudes and perception (KAP) about HIV/AIDS and other STIs in a specific set of immigrants and vulnerable population in Rome (Italy). Methods: All immigrant and Italian people, aged 16–70 years, attending the infectious disease outpatient clinic of the National Institute for Health, Migration and Poverty (INMP) in Rome (Italy), during the period December 2012 to December 2013 were enrolled. HIV rapid testing was provided for free and patients were asked to fill in a questionnaire evaluating KAP about HIV/STIs. All patients with risky sexual behaviours or with a recent diagnosis of STIs were invited to come back after 3–6 months and a post-counselling questionnaire was offered. Results: Out of the total sample, 99.2% (n = 825) accepted the “rapid test” and 10 new HIV diagnoses were found (1.22%; 95% CI 0.58%–2.22%). Three hundred and eighty-five participants (47%) answered the entry questionnaire and 58 (15%) completed the follow-up. Overall, we found high knowledge about HIV/AIDS; however, lower educational level and immigrant status were associated with poor knowledge about HIV, other STIs and prevention methods. Immigrants have lower perception of sexual risk and higher prejudice than Italians. Conclusions: Our study showed high acceptance of rapid test in this specific vulnerable population and this allowed to identify new HIV diagnoses in unaware people. Socioeconomic inequalities observed in the KAP questionnaire suggest the need for actions to support the reduction of cultural differences in knowledge of HIV/AIDS and for policies aimed at improving access to health services and preventions programmes of marginalized populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)996-1002
Number of pages7
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Volume29
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 3 2017

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Keywords

  • counselling
  • HIV
  • immigrants
  • prevention
  • questionnaire
  • rapid test
  • socioeconomic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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