HIV-infected patients require antiretroviral treatment for life. To improve access to care,
CD4 enumeration and viral load tests have been redesigned to be used as point-of-care
techniques using finger-stick blood. Accurate CD4 counting in capillary blood requires a
free flowing blood drop that is achieved by blade incision. The aim of this study was to
assess the attitude of the patients toward blade-based finger-stick blood donation.
Four hundred and ninety-nine patients were included (299 patients from South Africa and
200 from Belgium). They completed a questionnaire to express their preference for finger
stick or venipuncture, after undergoing both. The South African patient cohort was divided
in two groups, receiving either single or multiple finger stick for CD4 and other HIV-related
tests. The Belgian patients received a single finger stick for CD4 testing, and were asked to
respond directly and again after two days.
The majority of the patients preferred the finger stick to the venipuncture. The perceived
pain using the blade was superior to a small needle, but similar to a large needle. They preferred
up to three finger sticks over one venipuncture. Up to 30% of the patients changed
their mind over two days. The main reason for choosing a finger stick was continued bleeding after venipuncture. The most cited objection to finger stick was pain/soreness.
Patient perceptions support the implementation of donating capillary blood with bladebased
finger stick during CD4 point-of-care testing.