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Bundled Rapid HIV/Hep C Testing May Improve Infection Awareness

Bundled HIV, hepatitis C testing ups number of people with substance use disorders aware of infection status

TUESDAY, April 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — For people with substance use disorders, combining HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV) testing and providing immediate test results may increase the number of people who are aware of their infection status, according to a study published in the May issue of Medical Care.

Jemima A. Frimpong, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in Baltimore, and colleagues randomly assigned 162 patients in New York City substance use disorder treatment programs to receive either combined HIV/HCV testing with immediate test results and posttest counseling or treatment with standard practice, which included a referral to seek off-site testing with delayed results. The authors surveyed each patient one month after randomization to assess the number of patients who self-report having received test results.

One hundred thirty-four patients (82.7 percent) completed the follow-up assessment at one month. The researchers found that 69 percent of patients who received rapid bundled testing reported having received both test results. In contrast, 19 percent of patients treated with standard practice were aware of their test results. A total of seven patients in the treatment arm and one patient in the control arm were newly diagnosed with HCV.

“The availability of rapid bundled HIV and HCV testing for patients in substance use disorder treatment programs resulted in the increased self-reported receipt of test results at one-month postrandomization,” the authors write. “Our findings suggest that this strategy may be an efficacious approach to increasing awareness of infection status for at-risk groups.”

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