Mapping Pathways is a multi-national project to develop and nurture a research-driven, community-led global understanding of the emerging evidence base around the adoption of antiretroviral-based prevention strategies to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The evidence base is more than results from clinical trials - it must include stakeholder and community perspectives as well.

26 September 2011

Mobile testing units show success in linking people to HIV care and treatment

via aidsmap, by Carole Leach-Lemens

Linkage to facility-based HIV care from a mobile testing unit is feasible, South African researchers report in the advance online edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.

In a stratified random sample of 192 newly diagnosed individuals who had received CD4 test results, linkage to care was best among those who were ART eligible, Darshini Govindasamy and colleagues found.

The lower the CD4 cell count the greater the linkage to care: all of those with CD4 counts at or under 200 cells/mm3, two-thirds of those with CD4 counts of 201-350 cells/mm3 and a third of those with CD4 counts over 350 cells/mm3 linked to care.

An estimated two million people died as a result of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa in 2008. South Africa now has the largest ART programme in the world, yet half of those in need of treatment do not get it. And a large number of those who do present for care, present late with low CD4 cell counts increasing their risk of early death.

In South Africa traditional HIV counselling and testing (HCT) sites at stationary facilities have increased and consequently so have the numbers tested. Yet this has not resulted in increased numbers on treatment and in care.

Transport costs, being male and having a low CD4 cell count have been well documented as the primary barriers of non-linkage to care.

Successful early diagnosis of HIV has to be accompanied by strategies that assure timely linkage to care and treatment so improving health outcomes.

Mobile testing units offer several advantages: people are often tested at an earlier stage of HIV; it is easier for hard-to-reach and high-risk populations to test; and they are cost-effective. However, maintaining on-going HIV care may prove difficult, requiring referral to stationery facilities.

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