P177 Low Acceptance of HSV-2 Testing Among High-Risk Women

Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Pre-Function Lobby & Grand Ballroom D2/E (M4) (Omni Hotel)
Alexis M. Roth, MPH, Section of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, Gregory Zimet, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, Brian Dodge, PhD, Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indian University, Bloomington, IN, Barbara Van Der Pol, PhD, MPH, Bell FLower STD Control Progam, Marion County Health Department, Indianapolis, IN and Michael Reece, PhD, Center for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, Bloomington, IN

Background: Although genital herpes (HSV-2) is highly prevalent, antibody testing is not common. Therefore, many HSV-2 seropositive individuals are unaware of their infection and may be responsible for a large proportion of new infections.

Objectives: To evaluate the acceptability of a community-based HSV-2 screening program for at-risk women and understand factors relating to uptake of point-of-care testing for genital herpes.

Methods: Recently arrested women were recruited from a court handling lower-level misdemeanor cases in Indianapolis, Indiana. Participants completed a survey assessing factors related to HSV-2 screening intentions, were compensated $20 for participation, and were offered optional HSV-2 testing for $10.

Results: A diverse sample of 48 women 18-57 years old (mean=34) have participated in this ongoing study. Over the last 90 days, respondents had 1-11 sexual partners (median=2) and 54% reported never using condoms. Knowledge regarding HSV-2 prevention and treatment was high, however 75% did not believe they were at risk for infection. Of 34 women who received a routine health screen in the last 36 months, 97% reported getting a Pap test suggesting an interest in women’s healthcare services. However, 79% (38/48) had no intention of getting tested for HSV-2 and only 1 participant accepted testing. Reasons for not testing included: recently receiving STD screens and believing they knew their HSV-2 serostatus (27%), not being at risk for infection (25%), cost (21%), and time (17%).

Conclusions: This group of women at high risk for HSV-2 infection was largely not willing to be tested at a cost of $10 despite recently accessing women’s healthcare services (Pap test) and having considerable knowledge about herpes.

Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: There are widespread misconceptions about STD screening and a potential discrepancy between knowledge, health beliefs, and behaviors. Further research is needed in order to create interventions that encourage herpes testing in this high-risk population.

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