HIV testing experiences of Aboriginal youth in Canada: service implications
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The objective of this study was to explore HIV testing experiences and service views of Canadian Aboriginal youth in order to provide information for HIV testing services. An exploratory, mixed-method, community-based research design was used for this study. Findings reported here are from 210 survey participants who had experienced an HIV test. Youth were recruited through 11 Aboriginal organizations across Canada, including AIDS service organizations, health centers, community organizations, and friendship centers. Youth who had tested for HIV ranged in age from 15 to 30 years of age (20% were <20), and came from First Nations (75%), Metis (14%), and Inuit (9%) backgrounds. Participants lived in all provinces and one territory. Over half (62%) were female. While the majority of survey respondents indicated at their last HIV test they had been treated with care (80%), respect (77%), or kindness (76%), some reported being treated with hostility (19%), fear (12%), discrimination (11%), avoidance (10%), or being treated in a bored way (15%). When asked about information they had received, 28% of survey respondents could not remember; 23% said they were not given any information, and 24% said their questions were not answered. Emotional reactions to testing ranged from anxiety/apprehension (64% of survey respondents) to being "calm" (19%). When asked for suggestions to improve testing services, participants indicated emotional support, compassion, professional yet personable services, and personalized HIV information were important. Study results suggest that to facilitate HIV testing for Aboriginal youth, testing services and counseling must be respectful, compassionate, non-judgmental, and culturally responsive in order to provide emotional support and HIV information that is meaningful and memorable.
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