Behavioral, Normative, and Control Beliefs of Filipino Men Who Have Sex with Men on Repeat HIV Testing and Counseling
Introduction. The Philippines faces an increasing incidence of HIV. Timely and regular HIV testing can be a preventive method against HIV infection because early detection of the virus leads to early access to treatment. This can lead to viral suppression in which the virus becomes undetectable and untransmittable. Repeat HIV testing is recommended to men who have sex with men (MSM) and other individuals with previous or ongoing risk of acquiring HIV. Following the Reasoned Action Approach model, providing behavioral interventions in promoting retesting among MSM first needs the identification of their salient beliefs toward a repeat test.
Method. A qualitative cross-sectional study was conducted. Thirty HIV non-reactive MSM from a community-based HIV testing and counseling center took part in the study. Participants were asked questions designed to elicit salient behavioral, normative, and control beliefs toward a repeat HIV test three to six months following the receipt of the non-reactive HIV screening test result.
Results. The most salient belief on the positive consequence of a repeat test was having peace of mind with one’s status; while the most salient belief on the disadvantages was investing in time and travelling as well as experiencing pain from the needlestick. Close friends were the most cited normative referent. Accessibility of facilities and time were believed to be the most salient facilitator and barrier, respectively.
Conclusion. HIV/AIDS counselors and administrators can become key persons in increasing regular HIV testing by bringing messages that address the unearthed salient beliefs of MSM toward repeat testing. The salient beliefs extracted from the participants can provide basis for behavioral interventions; however, a formal test through a quantitative study of a larger sample is warranted to identify beliefs that significantly affect attitudinal, normative, and control factors of retest intention.