Published: 26 October 2018
Factors associated with testing for HIV in people aged ≥50 years: a qualitative study
Despite a decline in the number of new HIV infections in the UK overall, the number and proportion of new HIV diagnoses in people aged ≥50 years continues to increase. People aged ≥50 years are disproportionately affected by late diagnosis, which is associated with poorer health outcomes, increased treatment complexity and increased healthcare costs. Late HIV diagnosis also has significant public health implications in terms of onward HIV transmission. It is not fully understood what factors affect the decision of an older person to test for HIV. The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with testing for HIV in people aged ≥50 years who tested late for HIV.
We interviewed 20 people aged ≥50 years diagnosed late with HIV to identify factors associated with HIV testing. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.
Seven themes associated with HIV testing in people aged ≥50 years were identified: experience of early HIV/AIDS campaigns, HIV knowledge, presence of symptoms and symptom attribution, risk and risk perception, generational approaches to health and sexual health, stigma, and type of testing and testing venue.
Some factors associated with testing identified in this study were unique to older individuals. People aged ≥50 years often do not perceive themselves to be at risk of HIV. Further, stigma and a lack of knowledge of how to access HIV testing suggest a need for health promotion and suggest current sexual health services may need to adapt to better meet their needs.