HIV Knowledge and Testing Behaviors among Middle Eastern and North Africans Ages 18-35 in the U.S.



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Despite all efforts and technologies invested in combating the HIV epidemic over the past three decades, HIV is still a global public health challenge. The United States’ National HIV Strategy 2020 is an effort to contain the HIV epidemic by reducing new infections, increasing access to care, improving health outcomes for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA), reducing HIV-related health disparities and health inequities, and achieving a more coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic (HRSA, 2017). To achieve these goals, it is necessary to increase our knowledge of HIV, HIV testing behaviors, and HIV risk and protective factors in under-studied groups in the U.S., like individuals from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Using a cross-sectional, exploratory design informed by the Health Beliefs Model, data was collected through an anonymous, online, quantitative survey nationwide, from individuals in the U.S. who identify as MENA (N=225), to pursue the following specific aims: 1) to assess the level of HIV-related knowledge among MENA individuals, ages 18-35, in the U.S; 2) to examine factors that influence the decision for HIV testing among MENA individuals; and 3) to examine barriers to HIV testing among MENA individuals. The data was analyzed using bivariate, logistic regression, and multiple regression. Results revealed that MENA individuals have moderate HIV knowledge, test less than the general population for HIV, low perceived risk for HIV infection was the main barrier to seeking HIV test. Also, HIV knowledge and sex behaviors were predictive of seeking HIV testing.