“AIDS is Something Scary”: Canadian Aboriginal Youth and HIV Testing





The purpose of the current study was to explore the HIV testing behaviours of Canadian Aboriginal youth, who have an increased vulnerability to HIV infection. In our mixed method study, 28 Aboriginal youth participated in an in-depth, semi-structured interview and 413 youth from all ten provinces and one territory completed a cross-sectional, self-administered, survey. Slightly more than half of the surveyed youth (50.8%) and almost all of the interviewed youth (89.2%) reported ever having an HIV test. A significant proportion of the youth believed that they did not need an HIV test because they were at low risk for HIV, had never had sex with an infected person, or felt healthy. Female participants with a history of pregnancy were more likely to have had an HIV test. A significant number of participants viewed AIDS as a scary disease associated with a death sentence. These findings are relevant to the planning and implementation of youth HIV testing services, as part of comprehensive HIV and STI prevention programs.

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