Background Youth experience disparities in HIV infection but have significantly low rates of HIV testing that lead to late diagnoses, increased transmission rates, and adverse health outcomes. There is limited knowledge regarding self-initiated HIV testing, which is a promising strategy for improving testing rates among youth. Purpose This study aimed to identify the facilitators of self-initiated HIV testing among youth. Method Thirty youths aged 18-24 years were recruited to participate in a qualitative descriptive study. Potential participants were recruited from a combination of HIV testing sites, including community testing events, a community-based organization, an adolescent health clinic, and a college campus. A demographic and sexual history questionnaire and audio-recorded interviews were used to collect data. Transcribed interviews were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. Results Salient themes and subthemes that explain the study findings are as follows: testing within the context of a sexual relationship (e.g., infidelity), support and influence from social relationships (e.g., family support), taking the initiative for health (e.g., signs and symptoms of infection), HIV testing preferences (e.g., free testing), and HIV testing experiences (e.g., provision of other health services). Conclusions The findings of this study advance scholarly understanding regarding the predictors of self-initiated testing and provide critical information necessary to further improve evidence-based nursing clinical practice and develop public health nursing interventions that target self-initiated HIV testing. Encouraging self-initiated HIV testing is an effective approach to increasing testing rates and, consequently, preventing new HIV transmissions in this vulnerable population.
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