Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Rural residents less likely to get HIV testing; researchers say rural health-care providers should routinely offer it

Rural residents are less likely to have had an HIV test than their urban counterparts, according to a study of responses to a continuous national poll conducted by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study of the the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that HIV tests for rural people were less likely in the past year and over the course of their lives. That's worrisome because rural America is experiencing an increased incidence of HIV, especially in the South and Midwest.

The research used data from 2015. Out of about 250,000 respondents, 24.5 percent of urban residents said they had received an HIV test within the past year, while 20.2 percent of rural residents did. Overall, 26.9 percent of urban residents reported having ever had an HIV test, compared to 21.5 percent of rural residents.

The researchers also dug into where people tend to get HIV tests. In rural areas, people tended to get tested in hospitals, emergency rooms and clinics, and are less likely to get tested in their doctor's office.

The study's authors conclude that rural medical providers should routinely offer HIV testing to patients, and that "targeted interventions are needed to remove structural barriers in rural communities such as long distances to clinics and low availability of free HIV testing at clinics serving the un- or under-insured."

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