April 12, 2002
A recent study in the Journal of Adolescent Health examines the possible differences between telephone notification vs. face-to-face notification of HIV test results for high-risk youth.
All outreach testing sites were within the Portland, OR, metropolitan area. Organizations and individuals were identified and approached for participation in this study on the basis of recommendations from youth and health care professionals who work with homeless and high-risk youth. Events were scheduled, coordinated, and advertised to promote youth participation. Mobile health vans allowed testing at sites that would have otherwise been unfeasible.
A total of 351 HIV tests were performed. Youth aged 13 to 24, who requested HIV counseling and testing and were able to provide informed consent, were eligible for the study. All outreach testing was completed confidentially with client-centered individualized counseling. Oral HIV testing was performed.
Information concerning demographics, risk behaviors, and HIV-testing history were collected. Behaviors considered high-risk included: injection drug use; sharing needles; trading sex for food, money, drugs, shelter, or protection; a sexual partner known as HIV positive; men who have sex with men (MSM); and those reporting high-risk sexual partners.
Youth were asked to rate their perceived risk for contracting HIV, quantify their number of sexual partners in the previous 12 months, and provide information about their use of barrier protection during sexual activity and use of drugs and alcohol with sexual behavior.
The authors believe their findings showed that younger adolescents, non-whites, and those with lower risk behavior were less likely to receive their results but that adding a phone notification option increased the proportion of youth who received their results.
The authors acknowledge that they were unable to specifically look at phone notification with HIV-positive youth because only two youth tested positive and both were assigned to the face-to-face notification group. Despite this limitation, the authors suggest the option of phone notification in a low-prevalence HIVand homeless and high-risk population of young people is an effective way to increase the proportion who receive post-test counseling and test results.
For more information: R.C. Tsu, et al., Telephone vs. Face-to-Face Notification of HIV Results in High-Risk Youth, Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 30, pp. 154-60.