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If HIV testing were made a routine part of emergency medicine, it could help in identifying millions of people who are unaware they are infected with the virus. This is the conclusion of a new study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.
The University of Cincinnati researchers who conducted the study called the fact that most emergency departments do not offer HIV testing a missed opportunity. For many people, visits to a hospital emergency room are the only contact they have with the healthcare system. If they are not tested during these visits, they are unlikely to be at any point.
For the study, the researchers reviewed the medical records of 276 individuals who were recently diagnosed with HIV to see if they had visited an emergency room shortly before their diagnosis. If so, this would represent a missed opportunity to identify an infected individual while the diseases is still treatable.
The results showed that 157 of the patients could have been diagnosed significantly earlier had their local emergency room offered HIV testing as a standard part of their care.
The researchers said that more hospitals should update their policies to take advantage of these opportunities.
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