We surveyed men and women aged 21 to 34 years to determine the rates of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody testing in blacks and whites of diverse education levels in four US cities. Responses to the anonymous, mailed questionnaire were received from 90% of 777 white women, 64% of 734 black women, 79% of 677 white men, and 48% of 541 black men. The percentages reporting HIV testing for these four race-gender groups were 29%, 22%, 30%, and 38%, respectively. The percentages reporting testing that was voluntarily sought (ie, not in connection with blood donation, military service) were 16%, 14%, 18%, and 22%, respectively. In each race-gender group, roughly half of those who had not been tested said they "might have a blood test for the AIDS virus in the future." Education level was not correlated with HIV-testing frequency. Blacks were significantly less likely than whites to be aware of "a blood test that can detect the AIDS virus infection" (58% vs 77%), but blacks who knew of the test were more likely than whites to have been tested (47% vs 37%). Eleven percent of subjects reported at least one major risk factor for HIV infection. In these people, HIV testing was most common among homosexually active men (56% tested; 52% voluntarily sought), intermediate among injection drug users (40% tested; 31% voluntarily sought), and least common among the sexual partners of injection-drug users (21% tested; 11% voluntarily sought). Health education programs need to communicate the availability of, and need for, anonymous HIV testing.
(Arch Intern Med. 1992;152:397-402)