Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Robb Travers

Advisor Role

Chair, Health Sciences; Associate Professor, Health Sciences


The HIV test is highly valued for its role in promoting personal health, aiding in HIV prevention, and enabling the epidemiological tracking of the virus. However, relatively few scholars have critically examined the social and cultural implications of testing practices (Scott, 2003). These implications are of particular concern because the groups targeted for testing (referred to as service priority groups) are marginalized communities, and have historically been further marginalized by many public health HIV prevention efforts (Waldby, 1996). This thesis examines the experience of receiving an HIV test from the perspective of individuals in service priority groups, which include gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, trans people, African, Caribbean, and Black individuals, Indigenous communities, and people who use injection drugs. The study design and analysis is informed by HIV stigma theory (Parker & Aggleton, 2003) and minority stress theory (Meyer, 2003). Eighteen participants were interviewed following HIV testing and asked about their experiences receiving the test, and engaged in discussion about minority stress and HIV stigma. Analysis revealed that many participants found HIV testing to be stressful, and that this stress was related to being part of a “high risk” group. Individuals who had faced significant discrimination in their lives found the test more stressful than those who had experienced minimal discrimination. Additionally, those who held very negative opinions about HIV were more worried about the test compared to those for whom HIV was less stigmatized. Implications and recommendation for service providers and policymakers are discussed.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season