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Valdiserri RO, Nazi K, McInnes DK, Ross D, Kinsinger L. Need to improve routine HIV testing of U.S. Veterans in care: results of an Internet survey. Journal of community health. 2010 Jun 1; 35(3):215-9.
Late diagnosis of HIV infection contributes to poor medical outcomes and helps sustain continued transmission of virus. Published evidence suggests that despite current public health recommendations, patients receiving care in the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) system are not being routinely tested for HIV infection. Using a sample of computer-literate veterans, we conducted a survey of recent testing experiences. My HealtheVet (MHV) is a secure website allowing registered Veterans to access limited personal VHA health information. Using the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Survey, an electronic questionnaire on "health screening" was conducted in late Fall/early winter 2008-2009. A random sample (4%) of MHV users were surveyed; approximately 17% completed the survey and responses ranged from 31,237 to 33,074. Only 9% of the respondents indicated that they had been offered a test for HIV in the last 12 months compared to 83% who had been offered cholesterol screening, 65% blood sugar screening and 19% who had been offered testing for Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Of those who had been offered HIV testing, 91% indicated that they'd had the test performed. Of note, the percentage of respondents who indicated that they would "very likely" accept a test, if offered, was similar for HIV (73%), HCV (79%), cholesterol (75%), and blood sugar (75%). Although these results cannot be generalized to all Veterans in care, they suggest that routine testing for HIV has not been taking place and support recent VHA policy changes to remove barriers to HIV testing.