Patient perspectives on the experience of being newly diagnosed with HIV in the emergency department/urgent care clinic of a public hospital.
- Author(s): Christopoulos, Katerina A
- Massey, Amina D
- Lopez, Andrea M
- Hare, C Bradley
- Johnson, Mallory O
- Pilcher, Christopher D
- Fielding, Hegla
- Dawson-Rose, Carol
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0074199
We sought to understand patient perceptions of the emergency department/urgent care (ED/UC) HIV diagnosis experience as well as factors that may promote or discourage linkage to HIV care. We conducted in-depth interviews with patients (n=24) whose HIV infection was diagnosed in the ED/UC of a public hospital in San Francisco at least six months prior and who linked to HIV care at the hospital HIV clinic. Key diagnosis experience themes included physical discomfort and limited functionality, presence of comorbid diagnoses, a wide spectrum of HIV risk perception, and feelings of isolation and anxiety. Patients diagnosed with HIV in the ED/UC may not have their desired emotional supports with them, either because they are alone or they are with family members or friends to whom they do not want to immediately disclose. Other patients may have no one they can rely on for immediate support. Nearly all participants described compassionate disclosure of test results by ED/UC providers, although several noted logistical issues that complicated the disclosure experience. Key linkage to care themes included the importance of continuity between the testing site and HIV care, hospital admission as an opportunity for support and HIV education, and thoughtful matching by linkage staff to a primary care provider. ED/UC clinicians and testing programs should be sensitive to the unique roles of sickness, risk perception, and isolation in the ED/UC diagnosis experience, as these things may delay acceptance of HIV diagnosis. The disclosure and linkage to care experience is crucial in forming patient attitudes towards HIV and HIV care, thus staff involved in disclosure and linkage activities should be trained to deliver compassionate, informed, and thoughtful care that bridges HIV testing and treatment sites.