High HIV testing uptake and linkage to care in a novel program of home-based HIV counseling and testing with facilitated referral in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

SOURCE: JAIDS - Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): H.Van Rooyen, R.V.Barnabas, J.M.Baeten, Z.Phakathi, P.Joseph, M.Krows, T.Hong, P.M.Murnane, J.Hughes, C.Celum
DEPARTMENT: Human and Social Capabilities (HSC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 8151
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/2508
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11910/2508

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For antiretroviral therapy (ART) to have a population level HIV prevention impact, high levels of HIV testing and effective linkages to HIV care among HIV-infected persons are required. Methods: We piloted home-based counseling and testing (HBCT) with point-of-care CD4 count testing and follow-up visits to facilitate linkage of HIV-infected persons to local HIV clinics and uptake of ART in rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Lay counselor follow-up visits at months one, three and six evaluated the primary outcome of linkage to care. Plasma viral load was measured at baseline and month six. 671 adults were tested for HIV (91% coverage) and 201 (30%) were HIV-infected, of which 73 (36%) were new diagnoses. By month three, 90% of HIV-infected persons not on ART at baseline had visited an HIV clinic and 80% of those eligible for ART at baseline by South African guidelines (CD4?200 cells/mL at the time of the study) had initiated ART. Among HIV-infected participants who were eligible for ART at baseline, mean viral load decreased by 3.23 log10 copies/mL (p<0.001) and the proportion with viral load suppression increased from 20% to 80% between baseline and month six. In this pilot of HBCT and linkages to care in KwaZulu-Natal, 91% of adults were tested for HIV. Linkage to care was ;90% both among newly-identified HIV-infected persons as well as known HIVinfected persons who were not engaged in care.