HIV antibody testing: The gap between policy and practice

Claire Pomeroy, J. Sandry, D. G. Moldow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In response to recent laws regulating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) antibody testing practices in all federal hospitals, our university- affiliated Veterans Affairs Hospital instituted several interventions designed to increase appropriate testing. Specific hospital policy requiring restriction of testing to high-risk individuals, provision of pre- and posttest counseling, and documentation of written consent was instituted. In addition, an education campaign to inform physicians of hospital policy and training of counselors as physician extenders was undertaken. To determine the efficacy of these interventions, we reviewed all HIV antibody tests performed during a subsequent six-month period (n = 221). Only 14% of tests met all hospital policy requirements. The decision to test was prompted by identification of a risk factor or other acceptable reason for testing for only 31% of patients. Risk reduction counseling was provided for only 28% of patients. Written consent was documented for 62% of patients. Health care providers on surgical services were less likely than others to comply with hospital policy (p < 0.0001). We conclude that an interventional program including specific hospital policy mandates, physician education, and provision of trained counselors was not adequate to ensure optimal HIV antibody testing practices. If this gap between policy and practice is to be closed, additional interventions, or alternatively modification of policy guidelines, will be needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)816-822
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • HIV antibody testing
  • Hospital policy
  • Physician practices
  • Risk reduction counseling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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