HIV testing rates are low and falling even further1,2

HIV testing is the entry point to care under a status-neutral HIV care continuum—a new paradigm of care that incorporates both people living with HIV and people at risk for HIV exposure. Under a status-neutral care continuum, everyone is encouraged to get tested for HIV. It is the essential first step in initiating patients on either treatment or preventive care.3

Although HIV testing is essential, rates are low and have only further decreased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.2

HIV Testing is more Urgent than ever

Some experts believe ending the HIV epidemic in certain communities may take longer than expected due to COVID-19 delays.5 Prior to the pandemic, Black Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans were already disproportionately impacted by HIV, with new diagnosis rates of 42% and 29% in 2019, respectively.6 Furthermore, communities of color have also been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

HCPs like you play an essential role in meeting the urgent need to increase HIV testing

Healthcare providers have the unique power and responsibility to connect patients to the HIV care continuum.7 However, 2015 data show that approximately 75% of people in high-risk categories who had seen a primary care provider within the previous year were not offered an HIV test.8 By helping reduce some of the barriers to testing, you may help your patients get the treatment or preventive care they need.9

85% of patients reported being likely or very likely to accept an HIV test if a doctor recommended it

*According to a 2014-2015 study in a publicly funded primary care clinic in Houston, Texas.9

Steps you can take with your patients today to encourage HIV testing and to help end the HIV epidemic

Many people are still unaware of their HIV status and not offered a test.1,9
Here’s what you can do:

  • Start the conversation with your patients about HIV testing, and address HIV-related stigma10
  • Conduct risk assessments of your patients’ HIV risk8
  • Offer routine HIV testing and link your patients to prevention and care services8
  • Conduct testing in traditional and nontraditional settings, including offering self testing11,12
  • Use the HIV test result as an opportunity to talk with your patients about HIV risk and prevention or about HIV treatment13
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HELP STOP THE VIRUS PRO is an initiative to support your work in helping to end the HIV epidemic. The Help Stop the Virus Pro website is designed to deliver insighful current information about treatment trends and best practices.

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References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Basic statistics. Reviewed April 23, 2021. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/statistics.html
  2. Stanford KA, McNulty MC, Schmitt JR, et al. Incorporating HIV screening with COVID-19 testing in an urban emergency department during the pandemic. JAMA Intern Med. 2021;181(7):1001-1003.
  3. Myers JE, Braunstein SL, Xia Q, et al. Redefining prevention and care: a status-neutral approach to HIV. Open Forum Infect Dis. 2018;5(6):ofy097.
  4. Li Z, Purcell DW, Sansom SL, Hayes D, Hall HI. Vital signs: HIV transmission along the continuum ofcare — United States, 2016. MMWR. 2016;68(11).
  5. Zang X, Krebs E, Mah C, et al. Can the ‘Ending the HIV Epidemic’ initiative transition the USA towards HIV/AIDS epidemic control? AIDS. 2020;34(15):2325-2328. doi:10.1097/QAD. 0000000000002668
  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HIV in the United States and Dependent Areas. Reviewed August 9, 2021. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/testing/index.html
  7. Dinallo R. AMA Code of Medical Ethics’ opinions related to “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America”. AMA J Ethics. 2021;23(5):E402-E404.
  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Integrating routine HIV screening into your practice. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/stophivtogether/library/topics/testing/brochures/cdc-lsht-testing-brochure-integrating-routine-screening-provider.pdf
  9. Baumann KE, Hemmige V, Kallen MA, Street RL, Giordano TP, Arya M. Whether patients want it or not, physician recommendations will convince them to accept HIV testing. J Int Assoc Provid AIDS Care. 2018;17:2325957417752258. doi: 10.1177/2325957417752258
  10. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Discussing sexual health with your patients. Reviewed October 21, 2019. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/.clinicians/screening/discussing-sexual-health.html
  11. United States Department of Health and Human Services. 2021. HIV national strategic plan for the United States: a roadmap to end the epidemic 2021–2025. Washington, DC. Last updated January 15, 2021. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://hivgov-prod-v3.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/HIV-National-Strategic-Plan-2021-2025.pdf
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Self testing. Last reviewed July 30, 2021. Accessed August 23, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/hiv/testing/self-testing.html
  13. New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The New York City HIV status neutral prevention and treatment cycle. Accessed August 2, 2021. https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/health/health-topics/hiv-status-neutral-prevention-and-treatment-cycle.page