JMIR Public Health Surveill. 2022 Oct 26;8(10):e29890. doi: 10.2196/29890.
BACKGROUND: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization guidelines, all individuals aged 13-64 years should get screened for HIV infection as part of their routine medical examinations. Individuals at high risk should get tested annually.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to identify the sociodemographic, health care, and sexual behavioral characteristics of provider-initiated HIV testing using data from the Puerto Rico National HIV Behavioral Surveillance 2016 cycle, directed toward heterosexual individuals at increased risk of HIV infection.
METHODS: A sample of 358 eligible participants were recruited through respondent-driven sampling, where sociodemographic characteristics, health care use, and HIV test referral were used to assess a description of the study sample. Pearson chi-square and Fisher tests were used to evaluate proportional differences. Multivariate logistic regression models were performed to determine the association between independent variables and HIV test referral. Adjusted prevalence ratios by sex and age with their 95% CIs were determined using a statistical significance level of .05.
RESULTS: Despite 67.9% (243/358) of participants showing high-risk sexual behavioral practices and 67.4% (236/350) reporting a low perceived risk of HIV infection among those who visited a health care provider within the last 12 months, 80.7% (289/358) of the study sample did not receive an HIV test referral at a recent medical visit. Multivariate analysis showed that the estimated prevalence of the participants who received an HIV test referral among those who reported being engaged in high-risk sexual behaviors was 41% (adjusted prevalence ratio .59, 95% CI .39-.91; P=.02) lower than the estimated prevalence among those who did not engage in high-risk sexual behavior.
CONCLUSIONS: This sample of Puerto Rican adults reported a significantly lower prevalence of receiving an HIV test referral among heterosexual individuals at increased risk of HIV infection who engaged in high-risk behaviors. This study further emphasizes the need for health care providers to follow recommended guidelines for HIV test referrals in health care settings. Promotion practices in the future should include enhancing referral and access to HIV tests and implementing preventive measures to counteract the HIV epidemic in Puerto Rico.