Provider and Practice Characteristics Associated with Use of Rapid HIV Testing by General Internists

Hospital-based clinics and community health centers are using rapid HIV testing; at practices that use rapid testing, internists report low barriers to HIV testing overall.

Rapid HIV testing produces results in only minutes; however, until now the public health community has not been tracking the adoption of rapid testing by primary care providers.

This survey analysis quantified responses to a 2009 survey of members of the Society of General Internal Medicine; the Society’s HIV/AIDS Task Force investigated routine HIV screening performed by general internists. The survey asked internists what types of HIV testing were available at their practices; the survey’s key measures included the demographics of internists themselves, data about their practices, and barriers to HIV testing. This article presents the results of bivarate analyses and multivariate regression.

Key Findings:

  • Three barriers to HIV testing appeared less frequently when internists had access to rapid testing.
  • Forty-three percent of internists responded that their practice’s inability to rapid test held down overall HIV testing rates.
  • Overall, HIV testing is low on the list of most practice’s testing priorities; however, practices that emphasize HIV testing will be more likely to rapid test; such practices were almost 50 percent more likely to have HIV tested at least 1 in 4 patients.

Recent evidence has shown dramatic increases in HIV testing when rapid testing has become available. This analysis of survey responses found that access to rapid testing suggests a more amenable HIV testing environment; the test is most common in settings that serve minorities and uninsured populations.