Opt-Out HIV Screening Well-Accepted by Adolescents

Only 13 percent of teens opted out of screening provided in an urban emergency department
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Sept. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A routine, opt-out screening process for HIV at a pediatric emergency department was well-accepted by adolescents and their guardians, according to research published online Sept. 14 in Pediatrics.

Timothy D. Minniear, M.D., of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and colleagues analyzed data from 5,399 13- to 18-year-old patients presenting for care at a large urban emergency department who qualified for routine screening.

Of these patients, the researchers found that only 37 percent were offered opt-out screening; nurses reported that forgetting the procedure was the main reason for this performance rate. Of teens offered screening, only 13 percent opted out. Being age 15 years or older was the only independent predictor of screening acceptance; being of female gender or non-Caucasian race was not associated with acceptance of screening. Computerized prompting improved screening rates.

"Our study, the first with adolescents, showed that, contrary to health care provider predictions and results from studies with adults, adolescent patients and their guardians accepted routine, opt-out, HIV screening, regardless of gender or race. Staff commitment, a well-established plan for linkage to care and counseling for HIV-positive patients, and a computerized prompting system to reinforce the new screening practice are key components for successful implementation," the authors write.

A co-author reported financial relationships with sanofi-pasteur and Merck vaccines.

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