San Francisco General Hospital offers HIV testing at its emergency department as part of a push by the city to diagnose infected residents and start their treatment immediately, NPR's "Shots" reports.
The strategy of aggressive testing and early treatment is known as "test and treat."
Proponents of the strategy believe that the earlier someone is treated after HIV infection, the higher their chances of being healthier in the long term.
Supporters of the strategy also say that patients whose HIV is suppressed by medication are less likely to pass the virus to other individuals.
Results of Strategy
Diane Jones, a nurse at San Francisco General Hospital, said that 4% of patients tested in the ED are positive for HIV. She said that about 50% of people who test positive "never perceived themselves at risk."
She said that many of the infections are not among men who have sex with men, who have the highest infection rate in San Francisco. According to Jones, "The profile of the people who tested positive was significantly different," adding, "There were more women, more people of color, more heterosexuals, more transgender."
Monica Gandhi, a physician at the hospital who specializes in treating women with HIV, said women in particular "often do not know they're at risk" (Knox, "Shots," NPR, 7/23).