National estimation of rates of HIV serology testing in US emergency departments 1993-2005: baseline prior to the 2006 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations

Yu-Hsiang Hsieh, Richard E Rothman, David E Newman-Toker, Gabor D Kelen
AIDS 2008 October 18, 22 (16): 2127-34

OBJECTIVE: The 2006 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations place increased emphasis on emergency departments (EDs) as one of the most important medical care settings for implementing routine HIV testing. No longitudinal estimates exist regarding national rates of HIV testing in EDs. We analyzed a nationally representative ED database to assess HIV testing rates and characterize patients who received HIV testing, prior to the release of the 2006 guidelines.

DESIGN: A cross-sectional analysis of US ED visits (1993-2005) using the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey was performed.

METHODS: Patients aged 13-64 years were included for analysis. Diagnoses were grouped with Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project Clinical Classifications Software. Analyses were performed using procedures for multiple-stage survey data.

RESULTS: HIV testing was performed in an estimated 2.8 million ED visits (95% confidence interval, 2.4-3.2) or a rate of 3.2 per 1000 ED visits (95% confidence interval, 2.8-3.7). Patients aged 20-39 years, African-American, and Hispanic had the highest testing rates. Among those tested, leading reasons for visit were abdominal pain (9%), puncture wound/needlestick (8%), rape victim (6%), and fever (5%). The leading medication class prescribed was antimicrobials (32%). The leading ED diagnosis was injury/poisoning (30%) followed by infectious diseases (18%). Of note, 6% of those tested were diagnosed with HIV infection during their ED visits.

CONCLUSION: Prior to the release of the 2006 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for routine HIV testing in all healthcare settings, baseline national HIV testing rates in EDs were extremely low and appeared to be driven by clinical presentation.

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