Purpose: One in eight people living with an HIV infection in the United States is unaware of their status. Rapid HIV testing (RHT) is an easily used and accepted screening tool that has been introduced in a limited number of clinical settings. The purpose of this study was to investigate patient acceptability, certainty of their decision, and willingness to pay for screening if RHT was offered in university-based dental hygiene clinics.
Methods: A cross-sectional survey was administered to 426 patients at three dental hygiene clinics in New York City over a period of four months. The survey questionnaire was based on the decisional conflict scale measuring personal perceptions; with zero indicating extremely high conflict to four indicating no conflict. Patients were assessed for their acceptance of RHT, provider preference for administration of the test and their willingness to pay for RHT.
Results: Over half (72.2%) indicated acceptance of HIV testing in a dental hygiene clinic setting; with 85.3% choosing oral RHT, 4.9% fingerstick RHT, and 8.8% venipuncture. Respondents were amenable to testing when offered by dental hygienists (71.7%) and dentists (72.4%). Over 30% indicated their willingness to receive HIV testing in the dental setting when offered at no additional cost. The mean decisional conflict score was 3.42/4.0 indicating no decisional conflict.
Conclusions: Patients are willing to undergo oral RHT when offered as a service and provided by dental hygienists in the dental setting. Patients appear to be aware of the benefits and risks associated with RHT. Further research is needed to evaluate the public health benefits and logistical challenges facing the delivery of RHT within in the dental setting.