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HIV testing offered in the ER at Hopkins
  Danielle Ulman, The Baltimore Examiner
Jan 26, 2007
BALTIMORE - A revolutionary bedside HIV testing program offered at Johns Hopkins Hospital has gotten positive reviews from the community and increased the number of Baltimore residents screened, researchers said.
Johns Hopkins is the only hospital in the country to make testing available in the emergency room, said Richard Rothman, associate professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Department of Emergency Medicine.
"Overwhelmingly, patients are very interested in having the opportunity to be tested. Many patients may not have the opportunity to do so in other settings because they don't have a doctor or routinely access health care," he said.
Rothman said the hospital currently tests patients in the emergency department, as well as in labor and delivery departments, with consent.
The hospital uses a rapid HIV antibody test called the OraQuick Rapid HIV-1/2 Antibody Test, which allows the bedside testing to occur. Doctors can then give patients the immediate results at the time of testing.
Patients who test positive also get a traditional test to confirm the results.
In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised its recommendations for HIV testing for adults, adolescents and pregnant women in health care settings. The new guidelines suggest all adults in the United States at risk of contracting HIV should be screened annually, and HIV testing should be included in the battery of tests given to pregnant women.
"We are working with the CDC to spread the word about the benefits of bedside testing," Rothman said. "Our goal is to expand this to other ERs around the country."
He said each year, 10 percent to 12 percent of the hospital's patients test HIV positive, including patients already aware they have HIV. The bedside testing has shown another 3 percent of patients test HIV positive, Rothman said.
Many of the people who are being tested use the emergency room as a primary source of health care and would not normally get screened elsewhere, according to a release from Johns Hopkins.
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