Study objective: Newer combination HIV antigen-antibody tests allow detection of HIV sooner after infection than previous antibody-only immunoassays because, in addition to HIV-1 and -2 antibodies, they detect the HIV-1 p24 antigen, which appears before antibodies develop. We determine the yield of screening with HIV antigen-antibody tests and clinical presentations for new diagnoses of acute and established HIV infection across US emergency departments (EDs). Methods: This was a retrospective study of 9 EDs in 6 cities with HIV screening programs that integrated laboratory-based antigen-antibody tests between November 1, 2012, and December 31, 2015. Unique patients with newly diagnosed HIV infection were identified and classified as having either acute HIV infection or established HIV infection. Acute HIV infection was defined as a repeatedly reactive antigen-antibody test result, a negative HIV-1/HIV-2 antibody differentiation assay, or Western blot result, but detectable HIV ribonucleic acid (RNA); established HIV infection was defined as a repeatedly reactive antigen-antibody test result and a positive HIV-1/HIV-2 antibody differentiation assay or Western blot result. The primary outcomes were the number of new HIV diagnoses and proportion of patients with laboratory-defined acute HIV infection. Secondary outcomes compared reason for visit and the clinical presentation of acute HIV infection. Results: In total, 214,524 patients were screened for HIV and 839 (0.4%) received a new diagnosis, of which 122 (14.5%) were acute HIV infection and 717 (85.5%) were established HIV infection. Compared with patients with established HIV infection, those with acute HIV infection were younger, had higher RNA and CD4 counts, and were more likely to have viral syndrome (41.8% versus 6.5%) or fever (14.3% versus 3.4%) as their reason for visit. Most patients with acute HIV infection displayed symptoms attributable to acute infection (median symptom count 5 [interquartile range 3 to 6]), with fever often accompanied by greater than or equal to 3 other symptoms (60.7%). Conclusion: ED screening using antigen-antibody tests identifies previously undiagnosed HIV infection at proportions that exceed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's screening threshold, with the added yield of identifying acute HIV infection in approximately 15% of patients with a new diagnosis. Patients with acute HIV infection often seek ED care for symptoms related to seroconversion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Emergency Medicine