Targeted Screening for HIV Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis Eligibility in Two Emergency Departments in Washington, DC

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



AIDS Patient Care and STDs








emergency medicine; HIV; pre-exposure prophylaxis; prevention; screening


Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) is an effective method to prevent HIV acquisition in high-risk individuals. This cross-sectional survey study estimated the proportion of patients who were PrEP eligible among a targeted sample of emergency department (ED) patients with chief complaints indicative of HIV risk. Research assistants screened a convenience sample of adult patients who presented to two hospital EDs in Washington, DC, during a 6-month period with genitourinary, substance use, or intentional injury-related complaints. Patients with these complaints who reported being sexually active within the past 6 months and HIV negative completed a computer-assisted survey that included questions on sexual practices and partners, substance use, and attitudes and knowledge about PrEP. We used the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clinical guidelines to determine whether PrEP use was indicated. We report differences in PrEP eligibility by demographic characteristics, knowledge, and attitudes. Of the 410 participants, the majority were black (85%), and heterosexual females (72%). PrEP use was indicated in 20% (N = 84), most commonly because of condomless sex with a person of unknown HIV status (82%) and/or a sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnosis (41%). One-third (34%) of participants had heard of PrEP. Overall, 36% of the sample (N = 148) wanted to learn more about PrEP while in the ED. The percentage who wanted to learn more about PrEP was higher among PrEP-eligible patients (52%) compared with PrEP-ineligible patients (32%). Using CDC criteria, targeted screening identified that a substantial proportion of ED patients are PrEP eligible based on their self-reported behaviors.