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AIDS Patient Care STDS. 2011 Jul;25(7):439-44. doi: 10.1089/apc.2011.0041. Epub 2011 May 5.

Testing and linkage to care outcomes for a clinician-initiated rapid HIV testing program in an urban emergency department.

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  • 1HIV/AIDS Division, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California San Francisco, USA.


The urban emergency department is an important site for the detection of HIV infection. Current research has focused on strategies to increase HIV testing in the emergency department. As more emergency department HIV cases are identified, there need to be well-defined systems for linkage to care. We conducted a retrospective study of rapid HIV testing in an urban public emergency department and level I trauma center from June 1, 2008, to March 31, 2010. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the increase in the number of tests and new HIV diagnoses resulting from the addition of targeted testing to clinician-initiated diagnostic testing, describe the demographic and clinical characteristics of patients with newly diagnosed HIV infection, and assess the effectiveness of an HIV clinic based linkage to care team. Of 96,711 emergency department visits, there were 5340 (5.5%) rapid HIV tests performed, representing 4827 (91.3%) unique testers, of whom 62.4% were male and 60.8% were from racial/ethnic minority groups. After the change in testing strategy, the median number of tests per month increased from 114 to 273 (p=0.004), and the median number of new diagnoses per month increased from 1.5 to 4 (p=0.01). From all tests conducted, there were 65 new diagnoses of HIV infection (1.2%, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.9%, 1.5%). The linkage team connected over 90% of newly diagnosed and out-of-care HIV-infected patients to care. In summary, the addition of targeted testing to diagnostic testing increased new HIV case identification, and an HIV clinic-based team was effective at linkage to care.

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