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Study finds teens often willing to accept free or low-cost rapid HIV testing
Date:5/9/2011

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine HIV testing for everyone between the ages of 13-64 as part of their regular medical care, testing rates remain low among adolescents. However, a new study from the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center suggests teens who are offered free or low-cost rapid HIV testing are often willing to accept the test.

According to findings published in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, more than half of all adolescents accepted a free rapid HIV test immediately following an HIV risk assessment survey.

The study included 81 at-risk adolescents between the ages of 15-21. More than half of all participants were boys, while 34 percent were Latino and 25 percent were African-American. Overall, 53 percent of teens in the study accepted the free HIV test, with African-American teens more likely to agree to testing compared to Latino youth (75 percent vs. 39 percent).

"Given that many adolescents are willing to know their HIV status, policies that support free or low-cost routine testing may ultimately help identify more cases of HIV among teens," said lead author Rebecca Swenson, Ph.D., a child psychologist with the Bradley Hasbro Children's Research Center. "Our findings suggest that widespread routine testing is a viable HIV prevention strategy for this particular age group."

With Latinos a growing segment of the population, researchers say clinicians need to better understand why this group is less willing to be tested so approaches can be developed to increase test acceptance among Latino teens.

"Making HIV/AIDS education and testing outreach services available to adolescents through school-based health centers would help to eliminate barriers to accessing health care that many low-income and ethnic minority families face," says Swenson.

According to Swenson, researchers were also surprised to
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Contact: Jessica Collins Grimes
jgrimes2@lifespan.org
Lifespan
Source:Eurekalert

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