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Text Messages Can Encourage Patients to Discuss and Receive HIV Testing in Primary Care.

Wettermann R, Marek H, Giordano TP, Arya M. Text Messages Can Encourage Patients to Discuss and Receive HIV Testing in Primary Care. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine : JABFM. 2019 May 1; 32(3):408-412.

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OBJECTIVE: Routine HIV testing is not adequately occurring in primary care. One reason is that physicians perceive that patients do not want to discuss HIV testing and would prefer that patients initiate the discussion. A patient-centered text message campaign may prompt patients to discuss HIV testing with their physicians, thereby increasing HIV testing. METHODS: The study took place in clinics serving low-income populations. Participants received a randomized text message 30 minutes before their appointment, prompting them to discuss either HIV or an unrelated health topic with their physician. Participants were interviewed after their appointment to ascertain if they had discussed HIV testing, and test orders were verified via electronic medical record. RESULTS: Among participants sent an HIV text message (n = 17), 6 were HIV tested (35%). No participants sent a control text message were HIV tested. Of the 10 participants who reported reading the HIV message, 7 (70%) discussed HIV with their physician and 6 (60%) were tested. CONCLUSION: Our proof-of-concept study suggests an HIV text message campaign may increase HIV testing by encouraging patients to initiate discussion with their physicians. This intervention may increase HIV testing among low-income populations. A larger study is needed to confirm these findings.

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