Missed opportunities for HIV diagnosis

July 30, 2011 at 1:44 AM   |   Comments

CINCINNATI, July 30 (UPI) -- U.S. hospitals miss opportunities to diagnose patients who do not know they have HIV, even when a regular testing program is in place, researchers say.

Lead author Dr. Michael Lyons of the University of Cincinnati and one of four guest editors of a special supplement to the Annals of Emergency Medicine, says human immunodeficiency virus testing is one of the most critical parts of the fight against HIV.

"Previous studies have shown that patients with undiagnosed HIV often visit healthcare settings, particularly emergency departments, before eventually receiving a diagnosis, but how to capitalize on these opportunities for earlier diagnosis remains unclear," Lyons says in a statement. "We also do not fully understand how the frequency of missed opportunities differs between different emergency departments."

The study reviewed records for a set of 276 newly diagnosed HIV patients to determine whether the diagnosis might have been made in an earlier emergency department visit that didn't include an HIV test.

Missed opportunities occurred during 157 visits to an academic emergency department, 24 visits in an urban community hospital and six visits to a suburban community hospital, Lyons says.

"The number of missed opportunities differed between facilities, but all centers had at least some encounters with persons with undiagnosed HIV," study co-author Christopher Lindsell, vice chair for research in emergency medicine at the University of Cincinnati, says.

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