Objectives: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing is the gateway to treatment and care of HIV infection, however, little is known about the HIV testing behaviours among Caribbean youth. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of HIV testing and to examine associations of HIV testing with sociodemographic characteristics and risk behaviours.
Methods: Data were used from nationally representative surveys in three Caribbean countries: Guyana AIDS Indicator Survey 2005−2006; Haiti Demographic and Health Survey 2005−2006 and the Dominican Republic Demographic and Health Survey 2007. Youth 15−24 years who had ever heard of AIDS and ever had sex were selected, yielding samples of 875 in Guyana, 4199 in Haiti and 12 418 in the Dominican Republic. Bivariate tests were conducted to examine the associations between sociodemographic characteristics, risk behaviours and being tested for HIV.
Results: The proportion of youth reporting HIV testing ranged from 17% in Haiti to 48% in the Dominican Republic. About 54% of youth in Haiti and less than one-third in the Dominican Republic initiated HIV testing. A greater proportion of females than males had ever tested in each country, ranging from 68% in Guyana to 82% in Haiti. Higher rates of HIV testing were observed among ever married youth and among youth with 2−4 lifetime sexual partners.
Conclusions: Males, rural and never married youth were less likely to be tested. Outreach at individual and community levels and public health messages targeting these youth should be implemented. There is also a need to mainstream gender into the design of programmes aimed at increasing uptake of HIV testing. Programmes which assist youth in accurately assessing their risk behaviours are also required to improve HIV testing.