Sigma Research

Should wider HIV testing be encouraged on the grounds of HIV prevention?

AIDS Care, 1994, 6(1): 5-19

Authors: Susan Beardsell


The issue of the role of HIV testing in HIV prevention is an important one. Some commentators have argued that HIV testing should be encouraged more widely on the grounds that it can stimulate behaviour change to safe sex and drug use. Testing has been advanced as an important means to control the epidemic. There is, however, insufficient evidence to support this contention at this time. The hypothesis of a link between HIV testing and behaviour change is based on the assumption of a linear relationship. It is argued that this assumption is based on two others, that the ‘stimulus’ of testing and counselling is uniform, and that the information will be perceived and used by all recipients in an identical way. It is argued that there is currently insufficient research evidence to encourage more widespread testing on prevention grounds. Issues which should be considered in future research designs are discussed.

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