HIV awareness, perceptions and prevention among immigrants in Spain

Elisa Suárez, Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)
Teresa Castro Martin, Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
Laura Lorenzo, University Hospital La Paz
Marta Dominguez, Universidad Pompeu Fabra

From the mid-90s, nearly one-fourth of all new cases of HIV infection in the European Union are diagnosed in Spain. Furthermore, in recent years the prevalence of HIV has increased significantly among the foreign population residing in Spain. Consequently, evaluating the degree of knowledge of HIV transmission, the subjective perception of risk and the patterns of preventive behaviour among the immigrant population are crucial to adapt appropriately public health policies and prevention strategies. The objectives of this study are: (a) to identify socio-demographic factors influencing the assessment of personal risk of contracting HIV; (b) to examine differentials in HIV risk awareness and perceptions among the Spanish and the foreign population; (c) to document disparities in the degree of knowledge of HIV transmission and prevention, condom use and HIV testing, across nationalities. The analysis is based on the Survey of Health and Sexual Behaviour, conducted by the Spanish National Institute of Statistics in 2003. The survey, which comprises 10,838 individuals aged 18 to 49, is representative at the national and regional level. It contains information on HIV risk awareness, beliefs and perceptions, degree of knowledge about HIV transmission and prevention, condom use patterns, and HIV test experience. We use logistic regression to evaluate the influence of nationality and other socio-demographic characteristics (such as gender, age, partnership status, educational level…) on the assessment of personal risk of contracting HIV, on the correct identification of transmission and prevention mechanisms, and on voluntary testing for HIV. Our preliminary findings suggest that, as regards the degree of knowledge about transmission modes and preventive methods, there are few disparities between the Spanish and the foreign population. However, the number of sexual partners, diagnosed STIs, and non use of condoms are higher among the foreign population, increasing their vulnerability to health risks.

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Presented in Poster Session 3