Despite recent progress in enhancing the accessibility of HIV-related health services worldwide, opportunities to diagnose patients are often missed due to genuine barriers at different levels. The aim of the study is to explore the factors that affect the HIV testing uptake by young people in Saudi Arabia. For the quantitative strand of the study a newly developed self-completed online questionnaire was used and the study sample was drawn using a convenience sampling technique. Then, a semi-structured interviews were used to gather the perspective of healthcare professionals working in the field of HIV/AIDS in the country. 394 participants completed the questionnaires: 30% male and 70% female. Only 20 participants had previously been tested for HIV. On HIV/AIDS-related knowledge scale, the male participants scored higher than the females (6.4 V 5.7). For the risk perception scale, female participants appeared to have lower levels of risk perception than male participants (10.5 V 11.7). The female participants showed slightly more positive attitudes towards HIV testing than male participants (111.32 V 108.14). On the other hand, healthcare professionals indicated; stigma, HIV/AIDS knowledge gap and fear of positive result consequences as the main factors hindering the HIV test uptake. Knowledge, attitudes and HIV risk perception are critical factors that inform the decision to undertake HIV testing however, socio-cultural constraints are significant additional burden that hinder the efforts to scale up the HIV testing uptake in Saudi Arabia.
Key words: HIV testing, young people, attitude, knowledge, perception.
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