This study is part of a larger HIV care study, and examines patient perceptions regarding their HIV diagnosis experience in the emergency department/urgent care setting of a public hospital in San Francisco. The authors interviewed twenty-four patients – most of them men who have sex with men (MSM), reflecting the HIV epidemic in San Francisco – and identified factors that may promote or discourage linkage to HIV care. Common issues included the presence of more pressing medical conditions requiring immediate and intensive treatment, feelings of isolation and anxiety, the effect of patients’ perceived HIV risk on their degree of acceptance to their diagnosis, and complications regarding disclosure when patients were in the company of friends or family.
Overall, patients reported compassionate disclosure by providers, with some minor logistical issues. The authors concluded that health care providers should be sensitive to the unique roles of sickness, risk perception, and isolation in the diagnosis experience. Staff involved in disclosure and linkage to care should receive training on bridging HIV testing and treatment compassionately and effectively.