HIV testing rates fall short outside major cities, study finds

Men who have sex with other men and live outside a major city are less likely to be tested for HIV than those who live in a metropolitan area, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia-Okanagan Campus in Kelowna, Canada.

Based on an analysis of more than 150 responses to an online survey, 24 percent of men who have sex with other men living in smaller communities had never had an HIV test, compared to the 14 to 17 percent of men who have sex with other men living in large Canadian cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

The results of the study suggest the disparity in testing rates could be because men have sex with other men and live in suburban or rural areas internalize feelings of homophobia and are reluctant to disclose their sexual preferences to a physician.

"This study shows that a lack of feeling accepted appears to not only pose mental health risks, it poses physical health risks," said study author Susan Holtzman, PhD. "The fact that these men are reluctant to tell their doctor about their sexuality is something that requires attention in our healthcare system if we hope to increase the number of people tested for HIV."

 

 

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