Is access to medical care associated with receipt of HIV testing and counselling?

Research paper by D M DM Mosen, N S NS Wenger, M F MF Shapiro, R M RM Andersen, W E WE Cunningham

Indexed on: 26 Nov '98Published on: 26 Nov '98Published in: AIDS care


Lack of timely HIV testing leads to missed prevention opportunities and poor prevention counselling may be related to further disease spread. We examined the association of self-reported access to medical care with receiving HIV testing and preventive counselling services among a sample of patients with HIV disease prior to hospitalization. We conducted a cross-sectional interview of 217 Los Angeles patients hospitalized with HIV-related illness between 1992 and 1993 and abstracted clinical data from the medical record. Eighty-four per cent of patients received HIV testing prior to hospitalization, but only 33% received preventive counselling services. Only 48% of all patients rated outpatient medical care as somewhat or very easy to obtain. Controlling for severity of illness, better access to outpatient medical care (OR = 1.48; 95% CI = 1.02-2.15), having a regular source of care (OR = 3.40; 95% CI = 1.29-8.97) and non-homosexual mode of HIV transmission (OR = 0.31; 0.12-0.83) were associated with receiving HIV testing services prior to hospitalization. Having a regular source of care (OR = 3.55; 95% CI = 1.37-9.22), being VA (Veterans' Administration) insured (OR = 6.16; 1.46-26.05), older age (OR = 0.95; 95% CI = 0.90-0.99) and having a CD4 count between 101-200 (OR = 0.19; 95% CI = 0.06-0.63) were associated with receiving HIV counselling. Limited self-reported access to medical care is associated with fewer patients receiving HIV testing and counselling. Improving timeliness of HIV testing may require removing the barriers to medical care.