Investigating the relationship between HIV testing and risk behaviour in Britain: National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles 2000

Christine A. McGarrigle, Catherine H. Mercer*, Kevin Fenton, Andrew J. Copas, Kaye Wellings, Bob Erens, Anne M. Johnson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    47 Citations (Scopus)


    Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of, and identify factors associated with, HIV testing in Britain. Design: A large, stratified probability sample survey of sexual attitudes and lifestyles. Methods: A total of 12 110 16-44 year olds completed a computer-assisted face-to-face interview and self-interview. Self-reports of HIV testing, i.e. the timing, reasons for and location of testing, were included. Results: A total of 32.4% of men and 31.7% of women reported ever having had an HIV test, the majority of whom were tested through blood donation. When screening for blood donation and pregnancy were excluded, 9.0% of men and 4.6% of women had had a voluntary confidential HIV test (VCT) in the past 5 years. However, one third of injecting drug users and men who have sex with men had a VCT in the past 5 years. VCT in the past 5 years was significantly associated with age, residence, ethnicity, self-perceived HIV risk, reporting greater numbers of sexual partners, new sexual partners from abroad, previous sexually transmitted infection diagnosis, and injecting non-prescribed drugs for men and women, and same-sex partners (men only). Whereas sexually transmitted disease clinics were important sites for VCT, general practice accounted for almost a quarter of VCT. Conclusion: HIV testing is relatively common in Britain; however, it remains largely associated with population-based blood donation and antenatal screening programmes. In contrast, VCT remains highly associated with high-risk (sexual or drug-injecting) behaviours or population sub-groups at high risk. Strategies to reduce undiagnosed prevalent HIV infection will require further normalization and wider uptake of HIV testing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)77-84
    Number of pages8
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2005


    • HIV
    • HIV risk
    • HIV testing
    • Probability survey
    • Sex survey
    • Sexual behaviours


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