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Original Contribution
July 21, 2010

Routine Opt-Out Rapid HIV Screening and Detection of HIV Infection in Emergency Department Patients

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Emergency Medicine (Drs Haukoos and Byyny and Ms Hopkins), Clinical Social Work (Mr Silverman), Health Services Research (Dr Eisert), and Pathology (Dr Wilson), Denver Health Medical Center, Denver, Colorado; University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora (Drs Haukoos, Byyny, Thrun, Wilson, and Johnson); Departments of Epidemiology (Dr Haukoos) and Health Systems Management and Policy (Dr Eisert), Colorado School of Public Health, Aurora; Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences, University of Colorado Denver (Ms Conroy); Denver Public Health, Denver (Dr Thrun); Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia (Drs Hutchinson and Heffelfinger); Children's Immunodeficiency Program, The Children's Hospital, Aurora (Ms Forsyth); and University of Colorado HIV/AIDS Clinical Program, University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora (Dr Johnson).

JAMA. 2010;304(3):284-292. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.953

Context The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine (nontargeted) opt-out HIV screening in health care settings, including emergency departments (EDs), where the prevalence of undiagnosed infection is 0.1% or greater. The utility of this approach in EDs remains unknown.

Objective To determine whether nontargeted opt-out rapid HIV screening in the ED was associated with identification of more patients with newly diagnosed HIV infection than physician-directed diagnostic rapid HIV testing.

Design, Setting, and Patients Quasi-experimental equivalent time-samples design in an urban public safety-net hospital with an approximate annual ED census of 55 000 patient visits. Patients were 16 years or older and capable of providing consent for rapid HIV testing.

Interventions Nontargeted opt-out rapid HIV screening and physician-directed diagnostic rapid HIV testing alternated in sequential 4-month time intervals between April 15, 2007, and April 15, 2009.

Main Outcome Measures Number of patients with newly identified HIV infection and the association between nontargeted opt-out rapid HIV screening and identification of HIV infection.

Results In the opt-out phase, of 28 043 eligible ED patients, 6933 patients (25%) completed HIV testing (6702 patients were screened; 231 patients were diagnostically tested). Ten of 6702 patients (0.15%; 95% CI, 0.07%-0.27%) who did not decline HIV screening in the opt-out phase had new HIV diagnoses, and 5 of 231 patients (2.2%; 95% CI, 0.7%-5.0%) who were diagnostically tested during the opt-out phase had new HIV diagnoses. In the diagnostic phase, of 29 925 eligible patients, 243 (0.8%) completed HIV testing. Of these, 4 patients (1.6%; 95% CI, 0.5%-4.2%) had new diagnoses. The prevalence of new HIV diagnoses in the opt-out phase (including those diagnostically tested) and in the diagnostic phase was 15 in 28 043 (0.05%; 95% CI, 0.03%-0.09%) and 4 in 29 925 (0.01%; 95% CI, 0.004%-0.03%), respectively. Nontargeted opt-out HIV screening was independently associated with new HIV diagnoses (risk ratio, 3.6; 95% CI, 1.2-10.8) when adjusting for patient demographics, insurance status, and whether diagnostic testing was performed in the opt-out phase. The median CD4 cell count for those with new HIV diagnoses in the opt-out phase (including those diagnostically tested) and in the diagnostic phase was 69/μL (IQR, 17-430) and 13/μL (IQR, 11-15) , respectively (P = .02).

Conclusion Nontargeted opt-out rapid HIV screening in the ED, vs diagnostic testing, was associated with identification of a modestly increased number of patients with new HIV diagnoses, most of whom were identified late in the course of disease.