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Public Health Rep. 1996 Jan-Feb;111(1):44-53; discussion 54.

Counseling and testing for HIV prevention: costs, effects, and cost-effectiveness of more rapid screening tests.

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Department of Economics, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA 30303.


New rapid human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody tests permit many individuals to receive test results and appropriate counseling at one clinic visit. Because currently used tests require significant time for processing, all individuals must return for a second visit for test results and counseling. Since return rates for the second visit are low, the more rapid tests present an opportunity to improve the efficiency of HIV counseling and testing. The authors compared the costs and effectiveness of the currently used counseling and testing procedure and a streamlined procedure made possible by the new, more rapid screening tests. When test-positive clients are given preliminary screening test results, the rapid procedure is more cost-effective than the current procedure. Since over 90% of the clients in most clinics will test negative, the rapid counseling and testing procedure allows the vast majority of clients to be counseled and tested and to receive their results and posttest counseling in one visit. However, in the case where the goal of HIV counseling and testing is to focus only on infected individuals, if information regarding a positive result from the rapid screening test is not given to clients at the initial visit before a confirmatory test is performed, then the rapid counseling and testing procedure is not more cost-effective than the current procedure.

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