Rapid HIV testing offered to patients in addition to a clinician consultation increases the testing rate in the emergency department, according to data published in PLoS One.

A total of 100 patient-clinician consultation pairs took a survey in the emergency department of Lausanne University Hospital, Switzerland. The patients completed a questionnaire on HIV risk factors and were offered free HIV rapid testing. For each consultation, clinicians were asked if HIV testing had been indicated according to the national testing recommendations, and whether the testing had been mentioned and offered during the consultation.

Thirty of the 100 patients had indications for HIV testing, through risk factors or a presenting complaint, and 50 patients accepted rapid testing.

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Of the 50 patients who declined testing, 82% considered themselves not at risk or had recently tested negative for HIV and 16% wanted to focus on the presenting complaint during the consultation.

The 33 clinicians in the emergency department identified 20 patients with HIV testing indications, mentioned testing to 9 patients, and offered testing to 6 patients. The investigators note that the main reason for clinicians not mentioning or not offering HIV testing was the wish to focus on the reason for presenting to the emergency department.

“The offer of rapid HIV testing in parallel to the patient-doctor consultation was acceptable to patients, performed without complication and resulted in a testing rate of 50%,” the study authors concluded. “Offering non-targeted rapid HIV testing in our emergency department would enable testing of patients who may present HIV risk factors but would not otherwise be tested during their visit.”


  1. De Rossi N, Dattner N, Cavassini M, Peters S, Hugli O, Darling KEA. Patient and doctor perspectives on HIV screening in the emergency department: a prospective cross-sectional study. PLoS One. 2017 Jul 21. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0180389