Dramatic results with new HIV testing strategy
Countries around the world are on a fast track to controlling HIV and ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. This can only be achieved if every person infected with HIV knows his or her HIV status and receives necessary treatment.
In Zimbabwe, it is estimated that only 66 percent of people living with HIV know their status. A scarcity of resources and unsuccessful efforts to reach the untested have necessitated a new approach. We combined two strategies to break Zimbabwe’s testing barrier and achieved a five-fold increase in the number of people identified as having HIV. Health workers first employed the home-based index case approach, which involved going directly to the household of an individual who tested positive for HIV and testing his or her partner. Next, health workers used the sexual network notification approach, in which they identified individuals’ sexual partners over time. The health workers built trust among those they tested, successfully obtained the names and addresses of other partners and then tested these partners.
Only 8 percent of those tested with the index-case approach were found to be positive for HIV. That figure jumped to 40 percent after sexual network notification was added. Seventy-five percent of the people newly identified as living with HIV were linked to care. This is important progress toward bringing HIV treatment to all who need it.
Photo credit: Jessica Scranton/FHI 360