Regional differences in HIV testing among European patients with sexually transmitted diseases: trends in the history of HIV testing and knowledge of current serostatus

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ObjectivesTo determine trends in (1) HIV testing and knowledge of current serostatus and (2) clinic-visits of aware HIV-infected patients and (3) to determine associates of incident HIV infection among patients with sexually transmitted disease (STD) in 15 countries participating in a European Community anonymous HIV seroprevalence survey.MethodsDemographics, STD diagnosis, self-reported history of HIV tests and current HIV test results were collected for patients diagnosed with one of 12 pre-selected STDs. Incident HIV infections were determined among patients who reported prior HIV-negative test results.ResultsBetween June 1990 and December 1996, 66 560 STD patients were tested for HIV. Of these, 1581 (2.4%) reported a prior HIV-positive test. Of 41 727 (62%) patients who reported no previous HIV test, 611 (1.4%) were HIV infected. Of 20 785 (31%) patients who reported a prior HIV-negative test, 213 (1.0%) were HIV infected. Of 2467 (4%) patients without prior HIV test data available 123 (4.9%) were HIV infected. Overall, 63% of HIV-seropositive patients was aware of their HIV infection. Over time, the proportion of aware HIV-seropositive patients increased in some exposure categories in south and central Europe. Among the 11 684 patients who reported dates of prior HIV-negative tests, 108 HIV infections were found. Compared with the north, HIV incidence was higher in the central region [odds ratio (OR), 1.23; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.71–2.12] and in the south (OR, 4,39; 95% CI, 2.80–6.88) in all exposure categories except homosexual men.ConclusionsTwo-thirds of patients with an STD had never been tested for HIV. Of all HIV infections found, 32% were undiagnosed, indicating missed opportunities for counselling, safe sex education and referral for treatment. HIV testing should be routinely offered to all STD patients.

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