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Simply RationalDecision Making in the Real World$
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Gerd Gigerenzer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199390076

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199390076.001.0001

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HIV Screening

HIV Screening

Helping Clinicians Make Sense of Test Results to Patients

(p.12) Chapter 3 HIV Screening
Simply Rational

Gerd Gigerenzer

Oxford University Press

HIV screening is now recommended by the US Preventive Services Task Force for people aged 15–65 years. However, if clinicians do not understand the actual implications of a test result, patients may suffer needless emotional harm. Most patients are not made aware of the possibility of a false positive result. And many clinicians are not aware that a positive predictive value as low as 50% is possible if testing has a specificity of 99.99% and the tested population is very low risk. With the help of natural frequencies, both clinicians and patients can better understand the likelihood of being infected given a particular result. Natural frequencies foster insight and should become part of the training of every medical student and HIV counselor.

Keywords:   HIV screening, Bayes rule, natural frequencies, doctor–patient communication

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