HIV Screening in Hospital EDs Might Be More Cost Effective Than Other Screening Methods, Study Finds
Conducting routine HIV tests in hospital emergency departments was shown to be cost effective and "welcomed" by many patients, according to a study conducted by researchers at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, HealthDay News/Washington Post reports. For the study, Jeremy Brown, research director at GWU's emergency medicine department, and colleagues offered rapid HIV tests to 4,000 ED patients, 2,500 of whom agreed to be tested. The study found that 1% of the patients who agreed to be tested, or 26 people, had preliminary positive results for HIV.
According to HealthDay News/Post, the Washington, D.C., Department of Health provided the rapid screening kits at no cost, and the researchers administered the tests and analyzed the data. Brown said that the approach would not be feasible in the long term but added that the study's findings suggest some models for ongoing HIV testing programs in EDs. The cost per preliminary positive result was about $1,700, and the cost per confirmed HIV case was about $4,900 -- lower than other early detection methods -- such as the nucleic acid amplification testing method, which costs $17,000 per case -- Brown said. "Washington, D.C., has one of the highest AIDS case prevalence rates in the United States, and our results suggest that ED HIV screening in this high prevalence area is well accepted by patients," Brown added. The study was scheduled to be released Thursday in Chicago at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, HealthDay News/Post reports (HealthDay News/Washington Post, 5/16).