Barriers to HIV testing in Guatemala: A Qualitative Study

Lars Margolis, Narda Medina, Kimberly Gon, Brian Hagan, Kevin McKenna, Blanca Samayoa, Karla Patricia Alonzo Pacheco, Eduardo Arathoon, Matthew Anderson

Abstract


Background: Early detection and treatment decreases HIV transmission rates and leads to risk reduction in those who are diagnosed. HIV-infected Guatemalans typically present with late-stage disease.

Objective: We employed qualitative methods to explore barriers to HIV testing in Guatemala.

Methods: In depth, qualitative interviews were conducted in an HIV testing and treatment facility in Guatemala City. These were analyzed using the methods of Grounded Theory.

Results: Four major barriers impeded HIV testing in our subjects: psychological factors, stigma/discrimination, gender roles/machismo, and systemic barriers to care. Many of our patients’ fears were grounded in a reality of discrimination, while the systemic problems of the healthcare system reflected misunderstandings and fears on the part of healthcare workers.

Discussion: Our findings are consonant with the international literature. Our narrative suggested potential interventions; presenting HIV testing as a way to “save one’s life” instead of an “automatic death sentence” might foster HIV testing and earlier diagnosis

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References


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