PloS one 2017 07 2112(7) e0180389 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0180389
The emergency department (ED) is mentioned specifically in the Swiss HIV testing recommendations as a site at which patients can benefit from expanded HIV testing to optimise early HIV diagnosis. At our centre, where local HIV seroprevalence is 0.2-0.4%, 1% of all patients presenting to the ED are tested for HIV. Barriers to HIV testing, from the patient and doctor perspective, and patient acceptability of rapid HIV testing were examined in this study.
Between October 2014 and May 2015, 100 discrete patient-doctor encounter pairs undertook a survey in the ED of Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland. Patients completed a questionnaire on HIV risk factors and were offered free rapid HIV testing (INSTI™). For every patient included, the treating doctor was asked if HIV testing had 1) been indicated according to the national testing recommendations, 2) mentioned, and 3) offered during the consultation.
Of 100 patients, 30 had indications for HIV testing through risk factors or a suggestive presenting complaint (PC). Fifty patients accepted rapid testing; no test was reactive. Of 50 patients declining testing, 82% considered themselves not at risk or had recently tested negative and 16% wished to focus on their PC. ED doctors identified 20 patients with testing indications, mentioned testing to nine and offered testing to six. The main reason for doctors not mentioning or not offering testing was the wish to focus on the PC.
Patients and doctors at our ED share the testing barrier of wishing to focus on the PC. Rapid HIV testing offered in parallel to the patient-doctor consultation increased the testing rate from 6% (offered by doctors) to 50%. Introducing this service would enable testing of patients not offered tests by their doctors and reduce missed opportunities for early HIV diagnosis.