Despite recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately half of all heterosexual adults who are at increased risk for HIV infection and who received health care during the previous 12 month period, were not offered HIV testing, and men were significantly less likely to be offered testing compared with women, according to a new survey published in MMWR Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

In this study, the authors used National HIV Behavioral Surveillance (NHBS) data from Virginia to evaluate both the prevalence and the predictors of provider-initiated HIV test offers to heterosexual adults age 18 to 60 years who are at an increased risk for HIV infection

The cohort included 333 adults age 18 to 60 years who had visited a healthcare provider in the 12 months prior to their NHBS interview. Of this group, 139 (42%) participants reported that their provider had offered an HIV test. In the group who were not offered a test, 156 (80%) reported engaging in high-risk sexual activity, and 71 (37%) stated that they had never undergone HIV test in their lifetime. Among individuals who had received an offer for testing, 71% proceeded with screening. Only 16% of those whose provider had not offered an HIV test reported that they had been tested during this period (P <0.001). Compared with women, men had a significantly lower prevalence of being offered an HIV test (48% vs 32%, respectively).

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“Provider-initiated HIV test offers are an important strategy for increasing HIV testing among heterosexual populations,” wrote the authors.

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Diepstra KL, Cunningham T, Rhodes AG, Yerkes LE, Buyu CA. Prevalence and predictors of provider-initiated HIV test offers among heterosexual persons at increased risk for acquiring HIV infection – Virginia, 2016. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2018;67(25):714-717.