Study: Rural Persons Less Likely To Be Tested For HIV

A new study reports that rural areas score lower on self-reported testing of high-risk populations than urban areas:

In this nationally-representative, population-based study of HIV testing frequencies in the United States, we found that the frequency of self-reported HIV testing decreased substantially as the residential environment became progressively more rural. After adjusting for differences in demographics and self-reported HIV risk factors, the odds of HIV testing in the past year were 35% lower among persons living in the most remote rural areas compared to persons in the most urban areas. Rural persons with a prior HIV test were more likely than urban to report testing in a hospital, but less likely in the outpatient setting.

A prior study in the early years of the HIV epidemic in the US also found that rural persons were less likely than urban to report HIV testing.[6] Our results demonstrate that this gap in testing persists in the modern era of effective HIV therapy, when early diagnosis and linkage to care are even more essential. Moreover, recent efforts to increase testing have not impacted the rural-urban gap in testing. Although rural persons with HIV experience barriers to care, prior studies have described effective models for delivering high-quality HIV care in rural settings.[12–18] This accentuates the importance of early testing and diagnosis among rural persons with HIV.

Still work to do…