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

Maninder Singh Setia*, 1, Amelie Quesnel-Vallee1, 2, Sarah Curtis3, John Lynch4
1 Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics, and Occupational Health, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2 Department of Sociology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3 Department of Geography, University of Durham, Durham, UK
4 Division of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

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© Setia et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, 1020 Pine Avenue West, Montreal, QC, H3A 1A2, Canada; Tel: 001-514-398-1269; Fax: 001-514-398-8851; E-mail:



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..