Objective: To assess the acceptability and feasibility of offering rapid HIV tests to patients registering with primary care in London.
Methods: We sought to recruit all Anglophone and Francophone patients aged between 18 and 55 attending a large inner city general practice in London (UK) for a new patient health check. All eligible patients were offered a rapid HIV test on oral fluid and asked to participate in a qualitative interview. We measured the uptake of rapid HIV testing among participants and carried out semi-structured interviews focusing on the advantages and disadvantages of testing for HIV in primary care.
Results: 111 people attended the health check, of whom 85 were eligible, 47 took part in the study and 20 completed qualitative interviews. Almost half of eligible participants (38/85, 45%) accepted a rapid HIV test. The main reason for accepting a test was because it was offered as ‘part of a check up’. As a combined group, Black African and Black Caribbean patients were more likely to test in the study compared with patients from other ethnic backgrounds (p =.014). Participants in the qualitative interviews felt that having rapid HIV tests available in general practice was acceptable but expressed concerns about support for the newly diagnosed.
Conclusions: This study shows that offering patients a rapid HIV test in primary care is feasible and could constitute an effective means of increasing testing rates in this setting. A larger descriptive study or a pragmatic trial is needed to determine whether this strategy could increase timely diagnosis and reduce the proportion of undiagnosed HIV infections in the UK.