Background: The epidemiologic features of those who requested to undergo the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody test at public health centers in Japan are still ambiguous, although as a group, they are probably at a high risk to be infected. Methods: Between April 2001 and March 2002, 14,900 persons visited 131 public health centers that cooperated with this study in relation to the HIV antibody tests. A questionnaire was given to 8,972 persons who agreed to participate in the survey and 5,079 (56.6%) returned the form. Excluding those filled out by persons whose true intent in undergoing the test was the diagnosis of hepatitis C, 4,102 questionnaires were analyzed, individual characteristics examined, and first time visitors and repeaters were compared to assess their behavior and the reasons for of undergoing the test. Results: There were 2,515 (61.3%) males and 1,587 (38.7%) females. The largest age group was composed of 25 to 29 year-olds, Repeaters accounted for 27.2% of all the males and 21.3% of all the females. Their main reason for undergoing the test was anxiety about having contracted an HIV infection through sexual contact with a person of the opposite sex. The proportion of those having sexual contact with males was significantly higher among male repeaters (14.1%) than first timers (8.0%). Among females, the proportion of those who had experience of sexual contact with many and unspecified males was significantly higher for repeaters (39.6%) than first timers (27.3%). Conclusion: It was evident from this study that repeaters exist among those who seek to be examined for possible contraction of HIV: they are characterized by risk-taking behavior in contracting an HIV infection through sexual contact.
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