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AIDS Care. 2013;25(11):1442-5. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2013.772283. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

Preference for physician vs. nurse-initiated opt-out screening on HIV test acceptance.

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a Department of Community Health Sciences, School of Public Health , University of California , Los Angeles , CA , USA.


Provider-initiated opt-out HIV screening suggests that providers should routinely order HIV tests unless a patient declines. However, data on how providers will respond to this new screening model are scarce. Documented concerns from the providers' perspectives have included time constraints of a typical patient encounter, and discomfort with discussing sexual history and risk behavior with patients. To address these potential barriers, nurse-initiated screening has been proposed as an approach to increasing screening rates in general medical and urgent care settings. This study compares patient acceptability of provider-initiated opt-out HIV screening with nurse-initiated opt-out HIV screening among 220 patients between the ages of 18-64 from two publically funded "safety-net" outpatient clinics in Los Angeles County. Our study found that 77% of patients agreed to HIV testing using opt-out screening, and that HIV test acceptance was higher with the physician-initiated opt-out model compared with the nurse-initiated opt-out model (adjusted odds ratios = 2.92; 95% CI = 1.37-6.22). These findings indicate that adding opt-out screening to primary care providers responsibilities may be an acceptable and effective strategy for addressing the perennially low HIV testing rates, particularly among low income, traditionally underserved patient populations among whom the epidemic is expanding most rapidly.

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