Gender, sexual orientation, and adolescent HIV testing: A qualitative analysis
Using qualitative data, this article explored the circumstances leading to HIV testing among 59 HIV infected adolescents recruited from New York City HIV clinics. Results showed differences between the heterosexual women and the gay and bisexual men. Most of the young women were tested during routine health care or self-initiated tests, and most were asymptomatic when they tested positive. Their testing decisions were sometimes based on assessments of their boyfriends’ risk behaviors, rather than their own. Many males were experiencing symptoms of illness when they tested positive, and about half of these recognized their symptoms as related to HIV and sought tests. Some young men expressed fear of learning about positive test results, which delayed their testing, and some providers did not initially recommend HIV testing for males who presented with symptoms. The article concludes that consideration of these gender and sexual orientation-related concerns can facilitate HIV testing among adolescents.