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 R. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


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
Publication statusPublished - 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

Cite this

Margolis, L., Medina, N., Samayoa, B., Gon, K., Hagan, B., McKenna, K., ... Anderson, M. R. (2017). Barriers to HIV testing in guatemala: A qualitative study. Social Medicine, 11(1), 23-29.