As per CDC recommendations, community health centers are strongly encouraged to integrate HIV screening into their routine clinical care for all adults. Testing for HIV not only helps identify newly diagnosed HIV positive patients, leading to prompt initiation of vital treatment; it can also halt further transmission of the disease.
We realize that adding this task to an already busy clinic can be daunting, and we hope the answers below (HWA) to your potential questions will ease some of your concerns. For more information on community health clinics currently routinizing HIV screening, click here.
Concern: How can we be sure that a patient has all of the information required to consent to a test?
HWA: Per the revised CDC guidelines, prevention counseling (i.e. risk assessment and risk reduction planning) is no longer a prerequisite for HIV testing. However, Pennsylvania’s Act 148 requires that specific educational information be made available to the patient in pre-test counseling.We have developed brochures and other printed materials that provide information on HIV testing and fulfill the pre-test counseling requirement. Most sites have found that it is most helpful to give a brochure to every adult patient at check-in/registration. We also have a video that provides the same information (Resources).
Concern: How do patients get their results?
HWA: Depending on the type of HIV test performed, negative results can be provided during the patients’ sessions or upon return at their next clinic visit. Regardless of testing technology, all notification of results must be done face-to-face. We can provide you with literature to help with giving results and post test education. If a patient’s result is positive, you may choose to provide the result to the patient yourself or call your local Department of Health to help with the process. If you choose to provide positive results yourself, please remember that the DOH still has to be notified by law. The DOH can help identify HIV/AIDS specialists and or agencies for the patient’s future care. If you are already affiliated with a clinic that offers HIV care, you may continue to use their services.
Concern: How can testing be sustained after cessation of grant funds?
HWA: Some of our programs have successfully billed for conventional HIV testing, and we provide technical assistance with achieving this. More information on coding guidelines is in the Quick Links section. We are in the process of developing a similar protocol for rapid testing.
The otherwise mandatory counselor training for positive notification is not required for clinical sites under our grant. However, we can arrange for counselor training upon your request in order to meet state requirements after cessation of grant funds.