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An investigation into newly diagnosed HIV infection among Africans living in London

Burns, F.M.; (2009) An investigation into newly diagnosed HIV infection among Africans living in London. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In the UK substantial numbers of new HIV diagnoses are within migrant African communities. A continuing feature of HIV in this population is the late presentation to HIV services. This dissertation sets out to explore HIV testing among Africans in the UK, the factors associated with late presentation to HIV services, and the extent of HIV acquisition within the UK in African communities. The main focus of the thesis is the ‘study of newly diagnosed HIV among Africans in London’ (the SONHIA study), which combined qualitative and quantitative methods in a multi-centre study. The thesis begins with the work undertaken in preparation for SONHIA. It presents a literature review to provide epidemiological, cultural and historical background. Next is an analysis of the 2nd National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles to explore the factors associated with HIV testing among black Africans in Britain. Finally, the findings from in-depth interviews with key informants to identify the issues affecting utilisation of HIV services for Africans in Britain are presented. The SONHIA study consisted of survey of 269 Africans newly diagnosed with HIV. All respondents self-completed a questionnaire linked to clinical records, and 26 in-depth interviews with a purposively selected sub-sample were performed. The findings show that Africans are accessing services but clinicians are failing to use these opportunities for preventive and diagnostic purposes with regards to HIV infection. HIV presentation patterns appear governed by factors linked to the characteristics of, and response to, the HIV epidemic operating within people’s sociocultural networks. UK acquisition of HIV in this population appears substantially higher than acknowledged by national surveillance data, with a quarter to a third of HIV possibly acquired in the UK. The qualitative findings provide contextual understanding of the factors contributing to late presentation. They highlight the central role of HIV-related stigma and discrimination in influencing HIV testing behaviours. Failings within the health care system offer insight as how clinicians can better address HIV in the future. The key findings are summarized and contextualised with the literature and the current socio-political climate. The study’s limitations are addressed, and the thesis concludes with the public health and policy implications of the study.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:An investigation into newly diagnosed HIV infection among Africans living in London
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care > Epidemiology and Public Health

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