The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that a variety of strategies are needed to ensure HIV, STI, and hepatitis prevention, detection, and treatment strategies remain effective during current or future public health crises. As outlined in the Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE) initiative, HIV testing is a critical step in identifying acute infections, preventing further transmission and linking people to care and prevention services. With more than 160,000 people living with HIV in the United States who aren’t aware of their status, expanding access to HIV and STI testing remains crucial especially in situations where in-person testing is difficult to access due to clinic restrictions, geographic distance, or confidentiality concerns.
At-home testing is one strategy for reaching populations at risk for HIV and STIs, as shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in a recent Dear Colleague letter. Local health departments are uniquely positioned to provide this service to expand access to HIV and STI testing during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
To support the development of guidance and scaling up of innovative testing strategies, NACCHO is working to understand the scale and scope of at-home testing programs being offered by local health departments along with any needs or challenges with implementing this strategy.
NACCHO wants to hear from your health department: are you implementing at-home testing for HIV and/or STIs? Take our quick survey here: https://forms.gle/aV9x9EVrbTymvL2f7
If you’d like to share other ways your LHD’s HIV, STI, and hepatitis programs are responding or adapting to COVID-19, please complete this complete this brief form.