Illinois: Patients Waiting in ER Offered Free HIV Test
February 13, 2009
Patients in the emergency room at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Calumet Heights are routinely offered free HIV tests and most say yes to screening. More than 5,000 people have been tested since the program began last May. Fewer than 20 percent of patients who are approached decline to take the oral HIV test, said Donna Sinclair, HIV coordinator for the Southeast Side hospital's emergency department.
"We don't wait for patients to come to us," said Sinclair. "Instead, our health educators go to each patient awaiting treatment and provide them with a wealth of information -- everything from how the virus is spread, to who is at risk, to what they need to know about the test."
Testing is done in a private area and is offered to anyone ages 14-64. Results are available in 20 minutes, Sinclair added. Data on the number of patients who have tested positive is not yet available.
The hospital initiated the program with a $150,000 grant from CDC. It received an additional $180,000 to continue the effort this year. Trinity was chosen by CDC because it is in an area with a high HIV prevalence, said hospital spokeswoman Andrea Pocius. Its patients are primarily African American, a group with disproportionate rates of HIV/AIDS.
02.13.2009; Monifa Thomas