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Perceived racism among blacks boosts the odds of getting tested for HIV

Research Activities, September 2009

Blacks remain disproportionately affected by HIV infection. While they represent less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 42 percent of HIV infections and 54 percent of new diagnoses each year. In a new study, researchers have found that perceived racism is associated with higher odds of HIV testing among blacks. The researchers asked 373 blacks seeking screening or diagnosis for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) to complete a 101-item questionnaire during their visit to a public STD clinic. Questions were asked about perceived racism, perceived risk of HIV, coping mechanisms for stress, and sociodemographic characteristics.

Regardless of age or gender, the perceived risk of HIV infection was low among participants. Most reported perceptions of everyday racism (90 percent) even after researchers controlled for residential segregation and other factors. The more racism was perceived, the higher the odds of being tested for HIV during a clinic visit. This result was not explained by patient satisfaction or stress coping mechanisms.

The study's findings challenge assumptions that awareness of racism necessarily inhibits HIV prevention among blacks, note the researchers. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00032).

See "Perceived everyday racism, residential segregation, and HIV testing among patients at a sexually transmitted disease clinic," by Chandra L. Ford, Ph.D., M.P.H., M.L.I.S., Mark Daniel, Ph.D., Jo Anne L. Earp, Sc.D., and others, in the 2009 Supplement 1 of the American Journal of Public Health 99(S1), pp. S137-S143.

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Page last reviewed September 2009
Internet Citation: Perceived racism among blacks boosts the odds of getting tested for HIV: Research Activities, September 2009. September 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.