Objective: The objective of this study was to describe adolescent attitudes/preferences toward rapid HIV testing in a pediatric emergency department (PED).
Methods: An anonymous survey was completed by adolescents who presented to an urban PED. The survey was completed while they participated in a rapid HIV prevention/testing program. Survey questions included demographics, HIV risk factors/knowledge, prior testing experience, and attitudes/preferences toward rapid HIV testing.
Results: One hundred fourteen adolescents between the ages of 14 and 21 years were surveyed. Most respondents (69%) reported that the emergency department was a very high preference location for testing. Eighty percent of adolescents agreed that they were more likely to get tested for HIV if a rapid test was available. Most participants strongly agreed that it was important to receive pretest and posttest counseling for HIV. In addition, 38% strongly agreed that they preferred a same-sex counselor, whereas 9% strongly agreed that they preferred a same-ethnicity counselor. Eighty-one percent reported that they planned to get retested for HIV in the next 6 to 12 months.
Conclusions: This study offers valuable new insights into adolescent attitudes and preferences for rapid HIV testing in a PED. Adolescents gave high ratings to the location, testing, and counseling process. Our data support the importance of structured counseling, which is contrary to current published perspectives of counseling efficacy. In addition, we found that the PED was a highly preferred location for rapid HIV testing, which supports the need for increased development of prevention and testing programs in this setting.