Mandatory reporting of HIV infection and opt-out prenatal screening for HIV infection: effect on testing rates

Jayaraman, Gayatri C.; Preiksaitis, Jutta K.; Larke, Bryce
March 2003
CMAJ: Canadian Medical Association Journal;3/18/2003, Vol. 168 Issue 6, p679
Academic Journal
Abstract Background Mandatory reporting of HIV infection to public health authorities, although now common, may deter people from undergoing testing. We examined HIV testing frequency in Alberta before and after mandatory reporting was implemented. We also examined the effect on testing rates among pregnant women when Alberta adopted an opt-out approach to prenatal HIV screening. Methods Using data from the Provincial Laboratory for Public Health, we determined the number of HIV tests done between Jan. 1, 1993, and Dec. 31, 2000, for males and females in Alberta. We used data from the Canadian Blood Services laboratories to obtain the number of tests conducted as part of the opt-out prenatal HIV testing program. Reporting of HIV infection became mandatory on May 1, 1998, and opt-out prenatal HIV testing was introduced on Sept. 1, 1998. Results Among males, the average annual percent increase in the number of HIV tests was 4.0% for the period before mandatory testing, as compared with 4.3% for the period after mandatory reporting was implemented; the difference in yearly trend was significant (p < 0.001). Among females, the average annual percent increase in the number of HIV tests was 9.2% for the period before mandatory reporting. In the month immediately following the adoption of opt-out prenatal HIV testing, the rate increased by 28%. Between 1999 and 2000, the average annual percent increase in the number of HIV tests among females was 1.4%. Interpretation The introduction of mandatory reporting of HIV infection did not appear to have a deterrent effect on rates of HIV testing. The implementation of an opt-out prenatal HIV testing policy resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of females being tested for HIV infection.


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