From the Journals

Missed HIV screening opportunities found among subsequently infected youth



In the year prior to HIV diagnosis, there were high rates of missed opportunities for HIV testing and sexual history documentation, according to a retrospective study of youth with HIV aged 14-26 years who were treated at an HIV clinic. These results demonstrate a failed need for routine HIV screening and counseling in adolescents, according to Nellie Riendeau Lazar, MPH, of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and her colleagues.

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The researchers retrospectively identified 301 subjects between January 2009 and April 2015 who met their study criteria. A total of 58 of these (19%) had at least one visit in the care network in the year prior to diagnosis and their entry into the adolescent HIV clinic, and they were analyzed for missed diagnosis. The adolescent HIV clinic is part of a large care network in the Philadelphia area that includes a pediatric emergency department and a tertiary care hospital. At the time of the study, there were 31 primary care sites, according to the authors.

The mean age of the subjects in the study was 17. The majority (80%) were young men, African-American (93%), and men who have sex with men (81%). There were no significant differences seen in demographics between those with and without prior visits in the health system (J Adolesc Health. 2018;63:799-802).

The 58 subjects were seen in 179 health care visits in the year prior to their diagnosis: 56% outpatient, 40% emergency department, and 4% inpatient visits. Only 59% of these visits had any documentation of sexual history and “the overwhelming majority of those noting sexual activity included no other information,” such as number of partners, sex of partners, or condom use, according to the researchers.

Among the total cohort, 183 of 301 had never had an HIV test prior to their first positive test, even though 26% had been seen in the care network in the 3 years prior to their diagnosis. Among the 58 in the missed opportunity analysis, only 48% had HIV testing, even though 88% (51) had documented symptoms in their visits that could have been consistent with acute infection.

“Our findings support the most recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), recommending routine HIV screening for all adolescents, regardless of risk,” the researchers stated. “Adolescents may not always disclose sexual activity during routine assessment, and provider level barriers limit the reach of risk-based testing algorithms,” they added.

The authors reported that they had no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Lazar NR et al. J Adolesc Health. 2018;63:799-802.

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