We explore whether HIV stigma is associated with seeking to conceal testing interest. We examine 86,899 outpatient visits in a 1993-1997 national survey and compare HIV testing to four non-stigmatized tests: spirometry, allergy testing, mammography, and colonoscopy. We explore whether people testing for HIV, compared to people receiving control services, listed reasons for visit (RFV) less related to the test performed, listed their interest in testing more frequently as a non-primary RFV, and received more services unrelated to testing. A total of 48.7% of people tested for HIV listed a reason unrelated to testing as their primary RFV (spirometry: 8.9%; allergy testing: 29.3%), and 69.9% of people asking to test requested HIV testing as a secondary RFV (spirometry: 52%; allergy testing: 0%). People who tested for HIV received more services (M=1.83 additional services) than non-testers (M=0.95) on an index of seven services. We did not find this association for spirometry, allergy testing, colonoscopy, or mammography. We interpret these results to indicate that stigma may have behavioral correlates and that people may attempt to avoid HIV stigma by seeking a psychological cover for HIV testing. To our knowledge, this is the first study to attempt to use observational data on health service usage for assessing stigma and people's attempts to deal with HIV testing stigma.
View details for DOI 10.1080/09540120903193666
View details for Web of Science ID 000277313600013
View details for PubMedID 20390518