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J Emerg Trauma Shock. 2019 Jul-Sep;12(3):185-191. doi: 10.4103/JETS.JETS_103_18.

"That Can't Be!": Perceptions of HIV and Hepatitis C Screening during Admission to an Acute Care Surgery Service.

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Department of Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.
Department of Medicine, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, LA, USA.



A large number of patients live with undiagnosed HIV and/or hepatitis C despite broadened national screening guidelines. European studies, however, suggest many patients falsely believe they have been screened during a prior hospitalization. This study aims to define current perceptions among trauma and emergency general surgery (EGS) patients regarding HIV and hepatitis C screening practices.


Prospective survey administered to adult (>18 years old) acute care surgery service (trauma and EGS) patients at a Level 1 academic trauma center. The survey consisted of 13 multiple choice questions: demographics, whether admission tests included HIV and hepatitis C at index and prior hospital visits and whether receiving no result indicated a negative result, prior primary care screening. Response percentages calculated in standard fashion.


One hundred and twenty-five patients were surveyed: 80 trauma and 45 EGS patients. Overall, 32% and 29.6% of patients believed they were screened for HIV and hepatitis C at admission. There was no significant difference in beliefs between trauma and EGS. Sixty-eight percent of patients had a hospital visit within 10 years of these, 49.3% and 44.1% believe they had been screened for HIV and hepatitis C. More EGS patients believed they had a prior screen for both conditions. Among patients who believed they had a prior screen and did not receive any results, 75.9% (HIV) and 80.8% (hepatitis C) believed a lack of results meant they were negative. Only 28.9% and 23.6% of patients had ever been offered outpatient HIV and hepatitis C screening.


A large portion of patients believe they received admission or prior hospitalization HIV and/or hepatitis C screening and the majority interpreted a lack of results as a negative diagnosis. Due to these factors, routine screening of trauma/EGS patients should be considered to conform to patient expectations and national guidelines, increase diagnosis and referral for medical management, and decrease disease transmission.


HIV; Hepatitis C; patient beliefs; screening tests

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