Testing has been a cornerstone of the District’s HIV response for many years, with innovative approaches to testing — including offering testing in nontraditional settings — helping to bend DC’s incidence curve since 2008. The opportunity to know one’s HIV status is important for all residents, and an essential entryway into the health care system for those living with HIV. With the individual and public health benefits of early HIV diagnosis now widely known and accepted, delivering HIV testing to residents safely, easily, and conveniently is paramount to ending the epidemic.
The District will undertake a number of activities to responsively and sustainably offer HIV testing and related services, particularly in hot spots around the city. We will:
- Expand HIV and sexually transmitted diseases (STD) testing times (afternoon, evening, and weekends) at the DC Health & Wellness Center and in community partners.
- Develop and train new rapid testing partners in underserved communities.
- Augment services for youth and young adults by training peers and peer-based organizations to conduct HIV and STD testing
- Support HIV and STD testing at college and university student health centers.
- Expand convenience-based HIV and STD testing through GetCheckedDC by evaluating a pilot of HIV home-testing kits, expanding community partnerships to increase availability of kits, promoting walk-in testing through a partnership with LabCorp, and initiating telemedicine testing.
- Integrate U=U messaging in all HIV testing information and develop educational guides for community partners on U=U in testing activities.
- Refresh medical provider education on routine HIV screening by compiling a list of reporting providers, obtaining Medicaid data on screening rates by provider, and conducting outreach.
- Evaluate existing outreach testing programs for effectiveness.
- Develop new outreach for specific populations, including homeless individuals and older adults.
- Update social marketing and communications to better attract and respond to focus populations.
- Modify existing policies that are barriers to screening and diagnosis, including adding HIV and STD testing to the DC Health Universal Health Certificate and refraining from sending explanation of benefits notifications for HIV and STD screening for young adults.
- Establish new protocols for HIV diagnoses, with a new timeframe — for DC Health to process the diagnosis and issue a field record within seven days.
- Create new regional HIV diagnosis investigation protocols.
- Develop a new communication protocol with medical providers on HIV diagnoses.