Recent evidence suggests that HIV prevalence is generally higher among older than younger persons. However, few studies have explored issues regarding HIV testing and awareness of HIV status among older persons. We explored the correlates of HIV status awareness among older adults (aged 45+ years) in Uganda.
This paper is based on secondary analysis of existing data on persons aged between 45 and 59 years from a nationally representative Uganda AIDS Indicator Survey which was conducted between February and September 2011. Records on the socio-demographics and HIV/AIDS-specific indicators for 2472 persons were extracted for analysis. Individuals were considered to be aware of their HIV status if they reported that they had tested and received their HIV test results within the past 12 months. Data analyses were done using the sample survey procedures to take into account the sampling structure of the data. Odds ratios were used to quantify the associations between receipt of HIV test results and potential factors.
Of the 2472 respondents, 48% had ever tested and received their HIV test results while 23% tested and received their HIV results in the past 12 months or already knew that they are HIV positive. Individuals with the following characteristics had higher odds of being aware of their HIV status: being female (adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 1.26; 95% CI: (1.04, 1.53), having high comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS (AOR = 1.28; 95% CI: 1.04, 1.58), having attended secondary school education (AOR = 2.10; 95% CI: 1.47, 2.99) and engagement in high risk sexual behaviors (AOR = 1.53; 95% CI: (1.11, 2.10). A high level of stigma (holding at least three stigmatizing attitudes toward people living with HIV) was negatively correlated with awareness of HIV status (AOR =0.60; 95% CI: (0.45, 0.78).
Less than a quarter of older Ugandans are aware of their current HIV status. High levels of stigma and low comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS remained critical barriers to HIV testing and awareness of HIV status. These findings suggest a need for innovative HIV testing strategies to increase HIV status awareness among older adults in Uganda.