Aims It is recommended that clinicians have a high index of suspicion for children who could be at risk of HIV infection, to facilitate early detection, appropriate initiation of treatment and reduce early mortality. The UK National Guidelines for HIV Testing 2008 provide a list of paediatric patient groups who should be considered for HIV testing. This project assessed the acceptability of testing these groups amongst paediatricians.
Methods A questionnaire was sent to 205 clinicians working within general or specialist paediatrics, 73 of these responded. Questions included an analysis of clinician demographics and an evaluation of the patient groups who were considered suitable for HIV testing.
Results Figure 1 demonstrates the spread of demographics of the 73 clinicians who participated.
Figure 1 – Respondents were mostly female (60%) and were at consultant level (63%). The majority of respondents worked within general paediatrics (66%).
We assessed clinicians’ opinion as to which paediatric patient groups they would consider testing for HIV in line with the UK National Guidelines as those likely to be at risk of HIV infection. Table 1 illustrates the responses, interestingly only one respondent would not consider testing any of the patient groups.
Figure 2 – the patient groups that clinicians would offer hiv testing. groups were derived from the criteria recommended in the uk national guidelines for hiv testing.
Conclusions The results suggest that paediatricians’ acceptability to test children at risk of HIV is favourable with 70 – 86% of respondents agreeing to offer HIV testing. Disappointingly one patient group included in the Children’s HIV Association (CHIVA) standard of care of HIV testing were least likely to be tested; these were infants born to mothers who refused an HIV test during pregnancy. It is clear that paediatricians must remain vigilant to infants who could be at risk regardless of the aetiological derivative and the widespread HIV stigma. Greater awareness of National Guidelines and standards may contribute to improved rates of HIV testing.
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