Assessing the Role of Individual and Neighbourhood Characteristics in HIV Testing: Evidence from a Population Based Survey

The Open AIDS Journal 15 Oct 2009 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874613600903010046



Individuals living in deprived neighbourhoods have poor health outcomes, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection mortality. We assessed the association between individual and neighbourhood characteristics, and HIV testing across Canada.


We used logistic regression modelling to evaluate this association in 2219 men and 2815 women, aged 18-54 years, in Canada, using data from the National Population Health Survey (1996/7),. Socio-economic characteristics and presence of a sexually transmitted infection (STI) were the individual level characteristics. Small area of residence was classified according to categories of material and social deprivation; these were the ’neighbourhood’ variables in the model.


Ethnic minority women were less likely to report an HIV test than white women (OR 0.44, 95% CI: 0.23 to 0.86). Women without a regular doctor were significantly less likely to report ever having had an HIV test (OR 0.57, 95% CI: 0.35 to 0.93). Adjusting for individual level characteristics, we found that men and women living in the most materially deprived neighbourhoods were slightly less likely to report HIV testing than those living in the least deprived neighbourhoods (Men - OR 0.61, 95% CI: 0.34 to 1.08; Women - OR 0.62, 95% CI: 0.38 to 1.00).


Thus, living in poor neighbourhoods was associated with poor uptake of an HIV test. These economic disparities should be taken in account while designing future prevention strategies. Ethnic minority women were less likely to go for HIV testing and culturally appropriate messages may be required for prevention in ethnic minorities.

Keywords: HIV testing, ethnic minorities, highly active antiretroviral therapy, neighbourhoods..
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