HIV postexposure prophylaxis in sexual assault: current practice and patient adherence to treatment recommendations in a large urban teaching hospital

Acad Emerg Med. 2005 Jul;12(7):640-6. doi: 10.1197/j.aem.2005.01.015.


Background: Although rare, HIV transmission is one of the most feared consequences of sexual assault. While availability of medications to prevent HIV transmission (HIV nonoccupational postexposure prophylaxis [HIV nPEP]) is increasing, little is known about emergency department (ED) prescribing practices and patient adherence to treatment recommendations.

Objectives: To determine factors associated with offering, following up with, and adhering to treatment when HIV nPEP is initiated for sexual assault victims.

Methods: This was a retrospective chart review of female patients presenting with complaint of sexual assault to an urban ED from October 1, 1999, to September 30, 2002. HIV nPEP medications and/or follow-up were provided without charge. Chi-square analysis identified factors associated with being offered or referred for nPEP and follow-up. Variables significant at the p < 0.10 level were entered into logistic regression analysis.

Results: Two hundred twenty-nine charts were reviewed. The final sample size was 181. Mean age was 29.1 years; median time from assault to presentation was 10.1 hours; 51.5% of the assailants were known to the victims. HIV nPEP was offered to 89 (49%) patients, and 11 patients were referred to an HIV nurse. Eighty-five (85%) patients accepted, 38 of these 85 (45%) followed up, and 18 of the 85 (21%) completed treatment. In multivariate analysis, three variables were statistically significantly associated with increased likelihood of referral or being offered HIV nPEP: unknown assailant, having insurance, and younger age. Treatment was completed by 15 of 82 (18%) of ED-initiated patients, versus three of three (100%) referred for initiation. The authors were unable to identify factors associated with completing treatment.

Conclusions: HIV nPEP was offered to less than half of sexual assault patients, and few completed treatment. Further studies are needed to evaluate and improve appropriateness of HIV nPEP administration and follow-up.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Boston
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Emergency Medical Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Nursing / statistics & numerical data
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Hospitals, Teaching / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Urban / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Professional Practice / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rape / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies