Project Access is a qualitative study of barriers to HIV counseling and testing, and the personal HIV prevention strategies of drug users.
- Drug users’ risk behavior was not directly related to the number of times they had previously tested for HIV.
- Personal prevention strategies and HIV testing patterns are shaped by public health messages, institutional practices, and the concrete realities of living and surviving in impoverished communities.
- Many low-income drug users approach HIV as a chronic illness, one of many life threatening diseases facing their communities. HIV infection was seen as random and unpredictable, the virus was believed to lay dormant and completely undetectable within the body for years, and routine screening (HIV testing) was believed to be a primary means of managing HIV.
- Race, class, and gender inflect individuals’ perceptions, their responses to the threat of HIV, and their motivations for HIV testing.
- Health and social service referrals can play an important role in linking these populations to needed services.