To identify components of a proposed blood-borne virus (BBV) population screening programme and its associated consent procedure that both the public and health practitioners (HPs) would find acceptable. The proposed BBV screening system would aim to reduce late diagnosis of BBVs and be used in patients undergoing routine blood tests, aided by risk stratification software to target individuals at higher risk of infection.
A Delphi technique was used to build consensus among two separate groups, public participants and HPs in England.
A survey incorporating vignettes was developed, with input from an external panel of experts. Over three rounds, 46 public participants and 37 HPs completed the survey, rating statements on a four-point Likert scale. The survey covered issues around stigma and sensitivity, the use of risk stratification algorithms and ‘limited’ patient consent (ie, preinformed of the option to ‘opt-out’). Consensus was defined as >70% of participants agreeing or disagreeing with each statement.
Consensus was achieved among both groups in terms of acceptability of the screening programme. There was also consensus on using patient data to risk-stratify screening algorithms and the need to obtain some form of consent around the time of drawing blood.
This study found that the special protected status of HIV in England is no longer deemed necessary today and hinders appropriate care. We propose that a novel ‘limited consent procedure’ could be implemented in future screening programmes.
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