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1 Patient acceptability and feasibility of HIV testing in emergency departments in the UK – a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Nicola Lungu
  1. London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine


Background NICE 2016 HIV testing guidelines now include the recommendation to offer HIV testing in Emergency Departments, in areas of high prevalence,1 to everyone who is undergoing blood tests. 23% of England’s local authorities are areas of high HIV prevalence (>2/1000) and are therefore eligible.2 So far very few Emergency Departments have implemented routine HIV testing. This systematic review assesses evidence for two implementation considerations: patient acceptability (how likely a patient will accept an HIV test when offered in an Emergency Department), and feasibility, which incorporates staff training and willingness, and department capacity, (how likely Emergency Department staff will offer an HIV test to an eligible patient), both measured by surrogate quantitative markers.

Methods and results Three medical databases were systematically searched for reports of non-targeted HIV testing in UK Emergency Departments. A total of 1584 unique papers were found, 9 full text articles were critically appraised, and 7 studies included in meta-analysis. There is a combined patient sample of 1 01 975. The primary outcome, patient acceptability of HIV testing in Emergency Departments (number of patients accepting an HIV test, as a proportion of those offered) is 54.1% (CI 40.1, 68.2). Feasibility (number of tests offered, as a proportion of eligible patients) is 36.2% (CI 9.8, 62.4).

Conclusions For an Emergency Department considering introducing routine HIV testing, this review suggests an opt-out publicity-lead strategy. Utilising oral fluid and blood tests would lead to the greatest proportion of eligible patients accepting an HIV test. For individual staff who are consenting patients for HIV testing, it may be encouraging to know that there is >50% chance the patient will accept an offer of testing.

Table 1

Summary table of data extracted from final 7 studies, with calculated acceptability and feasibility if appropriate, and GRADE score. Studies listed in chronological order of data collection. GRADE working group evidence grades: 4= high quality, 3= moderate quality, 2= low quality, 1 or below = very low quality. (*study conclusion reports this figure is inaccurate)

Figure 1

Patients accepting HIV tests, and being offered HIV tests, as a proportion of the eligible sample


  1. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Public Health England. HIV testing: Increasing uptake among people who may have undiagnosed HIV. 2016 1 December 2016.

  2. Public Health England. HIV prevalence by Local Authority of residence to end December 2015. Table No.1: 2016. Public Health Engand; 2016.

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