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Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine

On-line version ISSN 2078-6751
Print version ISSN 1608-9693


WHALEN, Madeleine et al. Implementing emergency department-based HIV testing in a low-resource setting: The value of a structured feasibility assessment tool. South. Afr. j. HIV med. (Online) [online]. 2018, vol.19, n.1, pp.1-5. ISSN 2078-6751.

INTRODUCTION: HIV is a worldwide health problem with continuing high rates of new infections in many parts of the world. This lack of progress in decreasing overall incidence rates has sparked innovative HIV testing strategies, including expansion of testing into the emergency department (ED) setting. Emergency departments have been shown to be high-yield testing venues in the United States and other developed world settings. The feasibility of expanding public health HIV services in the ED in limited-resource countries is unclear. METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional feasibility assessment of a convenience sample of four hospitals in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. We administered three adapted interview tools from a previously field-tested survey instrument at each facility (total of 10 interviews) to gather an overview of the health facility, their HIV counselling and testing services, and their laboratory services. RESULTS: All of the health facilities had access to basic commodities such as water and electricity. Many had severe human resource limitations and provided care to wide population catchment areas. In addition, there was little integration of HIV testing into current daily ED operations. Hospital staff identified numerous barriers to future ED testing efforts. CONCLUSIONS: Although control of the HIV epidemic requires innovative testing strategies and treatment, specific assessments are warranted on how to incorporate routine HIV testing into an acute care facility like the ED, which typically has many competing priorities. The use of a prospective structured tool incorporating both barriers and benefits can provide valuable field-tested guidance for increased programme planning for HIV testing.

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