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Ann Intern Med. 2008 Aug 5;149(3):153-60.

Revising expectations from rapid HIV tests in the emergency department.

Author information

  • 1Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA. rwalensky@partners.org

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Expanded HIV screening efforts in the United States have increased the use of rapid HIV tests in emergency departments. The reported sensitivity and specificity of rapid HIV tests exceed 99%.

OBJECTIVE:

To assess whether a reactive rapid oral HIV test result correctly identifies adults with HIV infection in the emergency department.

DESIGN:

Diagnostic test performance assessment within the framework of a randomized, clinical trial.

SETTING:

Brigham and Women's Hospital emergency department (Boston, Massachusetts) from 7 February to 1 October 2007.

PATIENTS:

849 adults with valid rapid oral HIV test results.

INTERVENTION:

Rapid HIV testing with the OraQuick ADVANCE Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test (OraSure Technologies, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania). Patients with reactive rapid test results were offered enzyme-linked immunoassay, Western blot, and plasma HIV-1 RNA testing for confirmation.

MEASUREMENTS:

Specificity and positive likelihood ratio.

RESULTS:

39 patients had reactive results (4.6% [95% CI, 3.2% to 6.0%]). On confirmation, 5 patients were HIV-infected (prevalence, 0.6% [CI, 0.1% to 1.1%]) and 26 were non-HIV-infected (8 patients declined confirmation). The estimated rapid test specificity was 96.9% (CI, 95.7% to 98.1%). Sensitivity analyses of the true HIV status of unconfirmed cases and test sensitivity resulted in a positive likelihood ratio of 8 to 32. Western blot alone as a confirmation test provided conclusive HIV status in only 50.0% (CI, 30.8% to 69.2%) of patients at first follow-up. The addition of HIV-1 RNA testing to the confirmation protocol improved this rate to 96.2% (CI, 88.8% to 100.0%).

LIMITATION:

Test sensitivity cannot be assessed because nonreactive OraQuick test results were not confirmed.

CONCLUSION:

Although patients with a reactive oral OraQuick HIV screening test in the emergency department had an 8- to 32-fold increased odds of HIV infection compared with the pretest odds, the specificity of the test was lower than anticipated.

Comment in

PMID:
18678842
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3260470
Free PMC Article

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