From the Journals

HIV testing low in U.S. women engaged in risky behavior



HIV testing rates were low among women whose sexual behaviors increased their risk of HIV infection, and they were especially low among women who reported having anal sex, according to a report published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.


Data from the 2011-2015 National Survey of Family Growth were analyzed to estimate the proportion of sexually active, nonpregnant U.S. women aged 15-44 years who had had an HIV test within the past year. The data was stratified by those who reported anal sex and other risk factors, including having more than two sexual partners, condomless sex with a new partner or multiple partners, gonorrhea in the past year, or any history of syphilis, according to Mary Evans, MD, of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and her colleagues.

Among the 42.4 million sexually active women assessed, 9.0 million (20%) reported they had had anal sex in the past year. Of these, 19% reported that their providers asked about their types of intercourse, and 20% reported an HIV test within the past year. Overall, HIV testing was higher among women who reported anal sex and whose providers asked about types of sex engaged in than it was among those women whose provider did not ask (38% vs. 16%, respectively; P less than .001). However, HIV testing in the past year was higher for women with other forms of risky behaviors as compared with anal sex, ranging from 35.8% to 47.2%.

“Women who report sexual behaviors such as anal sex would benefit from an HIV test and an assessment for [prevention with preexposure prophylaxis] eligibility. Women’s health care providers are uniquely poised to provide HIV prevention for women who tend to have frequent encounters with the health care system,” the researchers concluded.

The authors reported that they had no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Evans ME et al. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Oct;219(4):383.e1-7.

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