Background: HIV transmission remains a major concern in Eastern Europe, and too many people are diagnosed late. Expanded testing strategies and early and appropriate access to care are required. Infectious disease departments might be targets for expanded HIV testing owing to the intense passage of key patient populations that carry indicators of HIV disease. Our objective was to evaluate the feasibility and clinical effectiveness of a fully integrated, opt-out routine, rapid HIV testing program.
Methods: A retrospective four-year study of a screening program was conducted from 2010 through 2014. The program was divided into two periods: from 2010 to 2012 (pilot study) and from 2013 to 2014. The pilot study consisted of routine HIV testing of patients aged 18-55 that were hospitalized in one department. In the second period, all inpatients aged 18-65 were eligible. Targeted testing was conducted in the other inpatient department during the pilot study and the outpatient department during both periods.
Results: During the pilot study, 2203 patients were hospitalized, 1314 (59.6%) were eligible, 954 (72.6%) were tested, and 3 (0.31%) were newly diagnosed HIV-positive. In the second period, 4911 patients were hospitalized, 3727 (75.9%) were eligible, 3303 (88.6%) were tested, and 7 (0.21%) were HIV-positive. In total, 2800 targeted tests were performed, and 4 (0.14%) patients tested positive with newly discovered HIV. All 14 newly diagnosed patients were provided with care. Comparing cumulative groups of routine and targeted testing, the HIV prevalence was 0.23% vs. 0.14% (p = 0.40) and was above the reported cost-effectiveness threshold of 0.1% (p = 0.012). A lower proportion of advanced disease and a higher proportion of heterosexually transmitted infection were found in the routine testing group.
Conclusion: Routine HIV testing in admissions of infectious diseases is acceptable, feasible, sustainable and clinically effective. Compared to targeted testing, routine testing helped to discover more patients in earlier stages and those with heterosexually transmitted HIV infection.
Keywords: HIV; Infectious diseases department; Routine testing; Targeted testing.