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Moving Beyond Screening: How Emergency Departments Can Help Extinguish the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

  • Author(s): Menchine, Michael
  • Zhou, Michael
  • Lotfipour, Shahram
  • Chakravarthy, Bharath
  • et al.
Abstract

While great strides have been made in diagnostic and treatment strategies, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) remains a major public health epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article, “Vital Signs: HIV Diagnosis, Care, and Treatment Among Persons Living with HIV – United States, 2011,” highlights current areas of concern regarding HIV diagnosis and care. The CDC estimates that 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV. Of them, 86% have received a diagnosis (14% remain undiagnosed and unaware), but only 40% are engaged in care and a mere 30% are virally suppressed. Emergency departments (EDs) can play a major role in combatting the HIV epidemic through regular screening and facilitating linkage to chronic HIV care. Universal opt-out screening as recommended by the CDC in 2006 has been shown to be effective but expensive, and has not been widely implemented in EDs nationwide. Cost-effective models and a renewed commitment from ED providers are needed to enhance ED-based HIV containment strategies.

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