Study objective: To assess the feasibility and effectiveness of an emergency department-based, risk-targeted voluntary HIV screening program. Methods: We prospectively enrolled consenting adult IV drug users (IDUs) not known to have HIV infection in the ED of a large inner-city hospital with a high rate of HIV infection among patients during a 10-week trial. Study patients were given confidential HIV protest and risk-reduction counseling, with 10- to 14-day on-site ED follow-up. Follow-up included posttest counseling, reinforcement of risk-reduction practices, and a $10 incentive to cover transportation costs. HIV seropositive patients were referred to the hospital HIV clinic for further evaluation and treatment. Results: Of 200 eligible IDUs, 168 (84%) consented to HIV testing. Of the 104 (62%) who returned for follow-up, 17 (16%) tested positive for HIV. Of these patients, 6 (35%) kept their initial hospital HIV clinic referral appointment, a rate consistent with the experience of the hospital HIV clinic. Of nine patients in whom CD4+ counts were performed at time of the visit, three (33%) had counts less than 200. At 3-month follow-up, 4 of 20 active IDUs (20%) had reportedly ceased drug use because of the program. The complete program cost was an estimated $16,659, $99 per enrolled patient and $521 per HIV-positive patient. Conclusion: An ED-based, risk-targeted HIV screening program is feasible and over time could detect a significant number of asymptomatic HIV- infected individuals, including those who should receive antiretroviral therapy and prophylaxis for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia therapy (CD4+ count less than 200). An additional benefit of ED-based HIV screening in high-prevalence EDs is the opportunity to conduct successful risk-reduction counseling in some high-risk individuals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine