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Adolescent perspectives on HIV testing: obstacles and challenges for prevention programs

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Eliana Miura Zucchi
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Saúde Pública (FSP/CIR)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Vera Silvia Facciolla Paiva; Cristiane da Silva Cabral; Elizabete Franco Cruz; Laura Ferguson; Néia Schor
Advisor: Ivan França Junior; Vera Silvia Facciolla Paiva

In Brazil, HIV testing campaigns have not resulted in increasing the uptake of HIV testing among young people. We carried out a qualitative study to investigate the decision-making in HIV testing. In-depth interviews and three focus groups were conducted with 26 high school students from three public schools in São Paulo, Southeastern Brazil, in 2011. The topics covered were: AIDS symbolisms, HIV risk perception, individual/social consequences of the diagnosis, STD/HIV prevention programs at school, and costs/benefits of taking the test. The scene methodology allowed participants to recall/reimagine the sexual encounter that would lead to test-seeking and the process of being tested for HIV. A social constructionist approach and a human rights framework were used to analyze the results. The sexual trajectories and scenes that would most encourage test-seeking were sex without condom use, usually driven by strong desire and alcohol consumption for both sexes. Girls imagined scenes in the context of emotional involvement and concern about contraception, being cheated on or undergoing coerced sex. Boys imagined seeking the test after scenes of casual sex without emotional involved and with poor of black partners. Some young people considered that time would account for a reflection around being exposed to HIV, as well as being aware of the partners history of sexual partners and drug use. As for the testing scenes, the company of a friend to go to the health service was regarded as helpful as services were perceived as unfriendly environments. Taking the test was always imagined as a very stressful event. Some regarded learning the test result as a nightmare, described stigma and discrimination episodes, whereas others would make this experience as a lesson learned about prevention in sexual encounters in the future. The strong psychological impact would gradually decrease over time, as well as the condom use. The HIV diagnosis would make sure the adolescent used condom in order to protect the partner from getting infected, although not wearing a condom is expected as a relationship becomes steady. Young peoples decision-making in HIV testing is informed by affective-sexual trajectories that express different gender norms for sexuality, thus resulting in different self-care trajectories. The cultural and programmatic scenario of the test (age, gender inequality, partner, class, ethnicity, and lack of trust in health providers) expresses the intersection between socially constructed markers of difference that become obstacles to the full realization of sexual rights and the rights to health and education. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 10/10205-0 - Decisions involved in performing the HIV test among adolescents
Grantee:Eliana Miura Zucchi
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate