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Postgrad Med. 2010 Jan;122(1):61-74. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2010.01.2100.

The relationship of reported HIV risk and history of HIV testing among emergency department patients.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital, 593 Eddy Street, Providence, RI 02903, USA.



Among a random sample of emergency department (ED) patients, we sought to determine the extent to which reported risk for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is related to ever having been tested for HIV.


A random sample of patients (aged 18-64 years) from an adult, urban, northeastern United States, academic ED were surveyed about their history of ever having been tested for HIV and their reported HIV risk behaviors. A reported HIV risk score was calculated from the survey responses and divided into 4 levels, based on quartiles of the risk scores. Pearson's X(2) testing was used to compare HIV testing history and level of reported HIV risk. Logistic regression models were created to investigate the association between level of reported HIV risk and the outcome of ever having been tested for HIV.


Of the 557 participants, 62.1% were female. A larger proportion of females than males (71.4% vs 60.6%; P < 0.01) reported they had been tested for HIV. Among the 211 males, 11.4% reported no HIV risk, and among the 346 females, 10.7% reported no HIV risk. The proportion of those who had been tested for HIV was greater among those reporting any risk compared with those reporting no risk for females (75.4% vs 37.8%; P < 0.001), but not for males (59.9% vs 66.7%; P < 0.52). However, certain high-risk behaviors, such as a history of injection-drug use, were associated with prior HIV testing for both genders. In the logistic regression analyses, there was no relationship between increasing level of reported HIV risk and a history of ever having been tested for HIV for males. For females, a history of ever having been tested was related to increasing level of reported risk, but not in a linear fashion.


The relationship between reported HIV risk and history of testing among these ED patients was complex and differed by gender. Among these patients, having greater risk did not necessarily mean a higher likelihood of ever having been tested for HIV.

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