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HIV Screening Program Proves Successful, Continues

Ben Taub emergency room staff celebrate one year of a trendsetting program making HIV testing a routine procedure in ERs.

More than 25,800 people have been tested for HIV as a result of a routine screening program for Ben Taub General Hospital’s emergency patients. Last year, Harris County Hospital District (HCHD) began testing all patients, ages 18-64, who arrive in Ben Taub’s emergency center and require blood lab work. The screenings have detected 178 newly diagnosed HIV-positive cases, representing a .65 positive rate since the program was implemented in August 2008. The testing program also reconfirmed the HIV status of 323 people who had not sought care for the virus.

The success of the program, Routine Universal Screening for HIV, places the Harris County Hospital District at the forefront of a nationwide effort to make the screening for HIV a routine test for all patients.

“A key feature of HCHD’s program is its ability to refer newly diagnosed HIV-positive patients and reconfirmed patients to primary care and other supportive services at Thomas Street Health Center, its free-standing HIV/AIDS facility,” stated Michael C. Ruggerio, HCHD operations manager for emergency center screening and outreach.

Because of the success of Ben Taub’s program, HCHD has expanded its routine HIV testing program to Lyndon B. Johnson General Hospital, with plans to expand to its other 12 community health centers. – by Nancy Ford


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