Barriers to HIV testing in guatemala: A qualitative study

Lars Margolis, Narda Medina, Blanca Samayoa, Kimberly Gon, Brian Hagan, Kevin McKenna, Karla Alonzo, Eduardo Arathoon, Matthew Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Early detection and treatment decreases HIV transmission rates and leads to risk reduction in those who are diagnosed. HIV-infected Guatemalans typically present with late-stage disease. Objective: We employed qualitative methods to explore barriers to HIV testing in Guatemala. Methods: In depth, qualitative interviews were conducted in an HIV testing and treatment facility in Guatemala City. These were analyzed using the methods of Grounded Theory. Results: Four major barriers impeded HIV testing in our subjects: psychological factors, stigma/discrimination, gender roles/machismo, and systemic barriers to care. Many of our patients’ fears were grounded in a reality of discrimination, while the systemic problems of the healthcare system reflected misunderstandings and fears on the part of healthcare workers. Discussion: Our findings are consonant with the international literature. Our narrative suggested potential interventions; presenting HIV testing as a way to “save one’s life” instead of an “automatic death sentence” might foster HIV testing and earlier diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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