Background: New rapid HIV antibody tests have allowed provision of results and result-specific counseling on the day on initial visit, and have the potential to increase the efficiency of HIV counseling and testing.
Methods: To evaluate the use of rapid testing with same-day results in public clinics, the Single Use Diagnostic System HIV-1 rapid assay was used for a 3-month period at an anonymous testing clinic and a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic in Dallas, Texas. Non-reactive rapid test results were reported as HIV-negative. Reactive results were reported as 'preliminary positive'. These procedures were compared with standard testing during a baseline period, with respect to number of clients receiving results and post-test counseling, client satisfaction, counselor acceptance, cost and effectiveness at reducing HIV risk.
Results: Rapid testing resulted in an increase in the number of persons learning their serostatus: a 4% increase for uninfected and a 16% increase for infected clients at the Anonymous Testing Clinic; a 210% increase for uninfected patients and a 23% increase for infected patients at the STD clinic. Rapid testing resulted in a cost saving of US$ 11 per test in both the anonymous and STD clinics. Of those previously tested, 88% responded that they preferred the rapid test. In the year following initial HIV test, clients tested with rapid and standard procedures were equally likely to return to the clinic with a new STD (odds ratio, 0.97; 95% confidence interval, 0.7-1.4).
Conclusions: Rapid, on-site HIV testing was feasible, preferred by clients, and, resulted in significant improvement in the number of persons learning their serostatus, without increasing the costs or decreasing the effectiveness of counseling and testing.