Reducing the time from HIV diagnosis to the start of care and treatment is an important part of ending the HIV epidemic.
Science tells us that early treatment of HIV benefits people who are newly diagnosed. It also prevents passing HIV to another person. The DC Department of Health believes that all who are newly diagnosed with HIV should have rapid access to care and start antiretroviral therapy (ART) as soon as medically possible. A collaborative research team composed of members of DC Department of Health, The George Washington University, and the community is exploring knowledge and attitudes about rapid ART among local HIV clinicians, community-based organizations, and community members.
To reduce the time from HIV diagnosis to treatment and ultimately to viral suppression, DC Department of Health plans activities to address individual, social, and structural barriers to rapid ART initiation. We will:
- Conduct a detailed epidemiological analysis to understand which demographic groups have not benefited from rapid linkage to HIV care and treatment initiation.
- Study how factors such as communication, health literacy, systemic racism, intersectional stigma and discrimination, and mental health affect the acceptance of rapid linkage to HIV care and ART initiation.
- Incorporate U=U messaging into educational materials about rapid ART initiation.
- Provide transportation assistance to support rapid linkage to HIV care.
- Create a citywide protocol for implementing rapid linkage to HIV care and ART initiation.
- Promote rapid ART initiation for people newly diagnosed with HIV in DC through communication with providers.
- Continue a provider community of practice so that local clinicians interested in implementing rapid ART initiation can learn from their peers.
- Work with the Department of Health Care Finance and the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking, to promote health care coverage policies that support rapid HIV care and treatment initiation.
- Continue to identify funds that can be used to pay for rapid ART while pursuing eligibility and enrollment in health care coverage for newly diagnosed individuals.