Assessing targeted screening and low rates of HIV testing

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



American Journal of Public Health








Objectives. We assessed rates of HIV testing based on targeting patients with identified risk factors at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, DC (VAMC-DC), where written informed consent along with pretest and posttest counseling had, until recently, been required by federal law. Methods. A cumulative retrospective review of the period 2000 through 2007 was conducted to assess the number of patients who were provided medical care at VAMC-DC, tested for HIV, and underwent confirmatory testing. Data on demographic characteristics and risks for HIV acquisition were also collected. Results. At VAMC-DC, 3.8% to 4.9% (mean = 4.25%) of patients in care without known HIV infection underwent HIV screening annually. On average, HIV was confirmed at a yearly rate of 3.4% among those tested. During the study period, HIV prevalence ranged from 2.1% to 2.5%. Among patients receiving HIV care, 41.5% disclosed no risk factors for HIV acquisition. Conclusions. Given that the HIV prevalence observed in this study was above 2% and that 41.5% of patients in care did not disclose any acquisition risks, targeted HIV screening has not been sufficient. HIV testing must be broadened and offered as part of routine medical care.