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Exploring the Relationship between HIV Risk Behaviors and HIV Testing among Youth Open Access

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an ongoing public health problem among adolescents and emerging adults in the United States (CDC, 2018a, 2018h). One in two youth do not know his or her HIV status despite increased engagement in sexual intercourse and HIV risk behaviors (i.e., substance use, violence, and sexual behaviors; CDC, 2018e). Youth between 14 and 24 years of age are less likely than adults to be tested for HIV, and this increases the risk for acquiring and spreading the virus. It would be beneficial for HIV counseling prevention interventions to incorporate the Socio-Ecological Model (SEM) to explore individual, interpersonal, community, and societal/policy level factors that influence a youth’s decision to be tested for HIV. This study utilized secondary data from the Flint Youth Injury Study to explore the relationship between risk behaviors and HIV testing. From exploratory factor analyses, risk behaviors were identified. Risk behaviors were explored at the individual (i.e., substance use and sexual behaviors), interpersonal (i.e., violence perpetration), and community (i.e., exposure to community violence) levels. Multiple binary logistic regression analyses identified statistically significant predictors of HIV testing (i.e., gender, race, age, and fighting). Because a variety of factors (i.e., demographic characteristics and risk behaviors) affect HIV testing, it is important that HIV prevention interventions target increasing access to testing among all sexually active youth. Counselors and other health professionals can apply the SEM to work with clients and consider multiple factors, not only risk behaviors, that are associated with HIV testing.

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