Study: Peer-referral programs can increase HIV-testing in emergency departments

May 17, 2013

CINCINNATI--Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) have found that incorporating a peer-referral program for HIV testing into emergency departments can reach new groups of high-risk patients and brings more patients into the hospital for testing.

Co-author and assistant professor of emergency medicine Michael Lyons, MD, says public health officials study multiple approaches to increasing early diagnosis of HIV. These approaches include a recent emphasis on expanding testing in health care centers, particularly emergency departments (EDs) that treat disadvantaged, at-risk populations.

"There's another high-yield way to identify people, which is to take those who are at risk of infection or who are HIV-positive and have them refer their social contacts or partners for testing," he says. "This 'social network testing' is typically used in public health departments to efficiently identify high-risk populations by targeting the social network of those high-risk or HIV-positive individuals."

But he says researchers do not know which program is more important, or, if used together, whether they inefficiently target the same population within a community.

In their prospective observational study, Lyons and fellow researchers implemented a social network and partner testing program from May to September 2011 in an urban academic health center ED.

Through an ED-based targeted HIV testing program, they recruited high-risk or HIV-positive individuals to participate in a paid coupon program, in which individuals receive coupons for HIV testing to give to their friends or partners. If an individual recruited a friend to come to the ED for HIV testing, that friend could also participate in the coupon program.

During the process, researchers reviewed hospital records to determine whether people tested by the peer-referral program also had study-site ED visits or HIV tests within the previous five years.

At the end of the study, the program had diagnosed four new cases of HIV. Of the participating individuals, 34 percent had no prior visits to the ED and 69 percent had never been tested by the ED HIV testing program.

Lyons said the results show that social network programs can be implemented in health care settings, providing valuable access into high-risk, uninsured populations with minimal difficulty.

"We were able to use an existing ED-based program to reach out into the community beyond what the ED would otherwise able to do. This suggests the two HIV-testing approaches may be complementary rather than fully redundant, illustrating the ways in which health centers can feed social network and partner testing programs."
-end-
The team is presenting their abstract, "Can a Social Network HIV Testing Program Expand HIV Testing Beyond the Usual Emergency Department Population?" at the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine annual meeting, held May 14-17 in Atlanta. Co-authors include Robbie Paulsen, Andrew Ruffner, Christopher Lindsell, Kimberly Hart, Christopher Barczak, Alexander T. Trott and , Carl J. Fichtenbaum and Michael Lyons.

The project was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.

University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

Related HIV Articles from Brightsurf:

BEAT-HIV Delaney collaboratory issues recommendations measuring persistent HIV reservoirs
Spearheaded by Wistar scientists, top worldwide HIV researchers from the BEAT-HIV Martin Delaney Collaboratory to Cure HIV-1 Infection by Combination Immunotherapy (BEAT-HIV Collaboratory) compiled the first comprehensive set of recommendations on how to best measure the size of persistent HIV reservoirs during cure-directed clinical studies.

The Lancet HIV: Study suggests a second patient has been cured of HIV
A study of the second HIV patient to undergo successful stem cell transplantation from donors with a HIV-resistant gene, finds that there was no active viral infection in the patient's blood 30 months after they stopped anti-retroviral therapy, according to a case report published in The Lancet HIV journal and presented at CROI (Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections).

Children with HIV score below HIV-negative peers in cognitive, motor function tests
Children who acquired HIV in utero or during birth or breastfeeding did not perform as well as their peers who do not have HIV on tests measuring cognitive ability, motor function and attention, according to a report published online today in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Efforts to end the HIV epidemic must not ignore people already living with HIV
Efforts to prevent new HIV transmissions in the US must be accompanied by addressing HIV-associated comorbidities to improve the health of people already living with HIV, NIH experts assert in the third of a series of JAMA commentaries.

The Lancet HIV: Severe anti-LGBT legislations associated with lower testing and awareness of HIV in African countries
This first systematic review to investigate HIV testing, treatment and viral suppression in men who have sex with men in Africa finds that among the most recent studies (conducted after 2011) only half of men have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months.

The Lancet HIV: Tenfold increase in number of adolescents on HIV treatment in South Africa since 2010, but many still untreated
A new study of more than 700,000 one to 19-year olds being treated for HIV infection suggests a ten-fold increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 19 receiving HIV treatment in South Africa, according to results published in The Lancet HIV journal.

Starting HIV treatment in ERs may be key to ending HIV spread worldwide
In a follow-up study conducted in South Africa, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say they have evidence that hospital emergency departments (EDs) worldwide may be key strategic settings for curbing the spread of HIV infections in hard-to-reach populations if the EDs jump-start treatment and case management as well as diagnosis of the disease.

NIH HIV experts prioritize research to achieve sustained ART-free HIV remission
Achieving sustained remission of HIV without life-long antiretroviral therapy (ART) is a top HIV research priority, according to a new commentary in JAMA by experts at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet HIV: PrEP implementation is associated with a rapid decline in new HIV infections
Study from Australia is the first to evaluate a population-level roll-out of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in men who have sex with men.

Researchers date 'hibernating' HIV strains, advancing BC's leadership in HIV cure research
Researchers have developed a novel way for dating 'hibernating' HIV strains, in an advancement for HIV cure research.

Read More: HIV News and HIV Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.