Let’s make HIV testing standard care.

We’ve compiled the most up-to-date resources to help you: use the new HIV testing algorithm, advising the test to patients, and interpret the results.

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Dr. Codrin Nemes, MD, PhD

Long Island Jewish Forest Hills ED

The Emergency Department gives us the opportunity to care for and interact with patients that may not realize they were at risk of contracting HIV. By finding a little time during our busy ER shifts to discuss and test these patients, we have the privilege to significantly change the rest of their lives and potentially prevent infection of tens of people down the line with only one positive diagnosis.

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Here are some frequently asked questions from the field...

Why test patients with no risk factors?
Everyone who has ever been sexually active is at some risk of HIV. Patients don’t always know if they are at risk and they rarely tell their health care providers even if they do know. Testing based on risk factors simply hasn’t worked. By contrast, we have virtually eliminated mother-to-child HIV transmission by testing almost all pregnant women, most of whom are at very low risk. HIV testing is simple, inexpensive, and acceptable to most patients.
What about HIV pre-test counseling?
Detailed pre-test counseling is now recognized as a barrier to testing. Therefore, recommendations have changed, and detailed pre-test counseling is no longer required before an HIV test.
What should I say if a patient asks why they are being tested?
Remind them that an HIV test is something you do as part of routine health care, and that they are not being singled out. Knowing your HIV status is important for your health care. Early HIV symptoms can be missed and many do not show symptoms for many years. During this time, an HIV positive person’s health is deteriorating and they may be spreading HIV to others. HIV treatment prolongs and improves people’s lives. You don’t know if you need treatment unless you get the test.
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