Treatment for HIV depends first on an HIV test. Curbing the growing number of patients with HIV requires the aid of healthcare institutions. The European guidelines for HIV testing are clear and ensure that each patient presenting with certain symptoms and diseases must be offered an HIV test. Patient screening is a good way to test and provide early treatment for those who are HIV positive.

To HIV Test or Not

Willingly most patients offered the test will take it. One study puts the acceptance rate at 99%. That is encouraging to health experts. However, when looking into the number of patients who were offered an HIV exam, European hospitals came up short. It was found that in Europe less than half of the patients who qualify were actually offered the test. Hospitals that had the lowest rates were in Northern Europe. Researchers are concerned that the number of those infected with HIV may be much higher than what is being reported.

Certain areas within the hospitals studied were more prone to recommend HIV testing. These wards are generally the ones regularly dealing with certain communicable ailments (like TB and Hepatitis). Therefore, HIV testing makes sense and is routinely offered. Another group of patients regularly asked are pregnant women, because careful testing can prove vital for the fetus as well. While very few fetuses actually test positive for HIV, the screening is offered and frequently accepted.

Why Is the Test so Frequently Not Offered?

One reason tests are sometimes not offered is medical staff discomfort in the area of HIV. Experts are researching other possible reasons for the sporadic or lack of effort to encourage testing in more patients – especially those in high risk categories. The correlation between the hospital ward and the amount of screening performed provides insight on the matter. Certain cases that present in different wards of the hospital may simply not relate to HIV in the minds of the healthcare providers. Changing this view, and encouraging these European hospitals to step up patient screening, could go a long way in helping to slow the scourge of HIV in Europe.