A systematic review of HIV screening programs conducted in pediatric emergency departments in the United States


BACKGROUND: We conducted a systematic review of studies published in peer-reviewed journals on HIV screening programs conducted in pediatric emergency departments (PEDs) in the United States (US) with the objective of describing the methods, testing yields and challenges in these programs. METHODS: We searched for full-text, English-language, original research articles focused on the conduct, development, initiation or implementation of any HIV screening program in a US PED through eight online databases (Pubmed (MEDLINE), Scopus, Embase, Cochrane, Web of Science, CINAHL, PsycInfo and Google Scholar) from their inception through July 2020. We also searched for articles on the websites of thirteen emergency medicine journals, 24 pediatric and adolescent health journals, and ten HIV research journals, and using the references of articles found through these searches. Data on HIV testing program components and yield of testing was extracted by one investigator independently and verified by a second investigator. Each program was summarized and critiqued. RESULTS: Of the eight articles that met inclusion criteria, most involved descriptions of their HIV testing program, except for one that was focused on quality improvement of their program. Five described an opt-in and three an opt-out approach to HIV screening. Programs differed greatly by type of HIV test utilized and who initiated or performed testing. There were large variations in the percentage of patients offered (4.0% to 96.7%) and accepting (42.7% to 86.7%) HIV testing, and HIV seropositivity in the studies ranged from 0 to 0.6%. Five of the eight studies reported an HIV seropositivity greater than 0.1%, above Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended threshold for testing in a healthcare setting. CONCLUSIONS: The studies illustrate opportunities to further optimize the integration of HIV screening programs within US PEDs and reduce barriers to testing, improve efficiency of testing results and increase effectiveness of programs to identify cases. Future research should focus on advancing the methodology of screening programs beyond feasibility studies as well as conducting investigations on their implementation and longer-term sustainability.


Bi L, Solnick RE, Merchant RC




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • Children or Youth (less than 18 years old)
    • General HIV- population
  • Testing
    • Testing


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