The report highlights two programs that it found to have success in identifying more individuals with HIV and linking them to care services. The first was the New York City-based Urban Health Plan Inc., a federally qualified health center that screened an average of 986 patients a month between January 2011 and September 2013. A total of 148 of the more than 32,000 patients screened at the facility were HIV positive, according to the report. Of those who were positive, none were receiving HIV medical care prior to being screened, but the center linked an estimated 81% of those patients to care services.
The second provider detailed, Interim Louisiana Hospital in New Orleans, screened an average of 1,323 patients a month out of their emergency department and their urgent-care center from mid-March and December 2013, totaling more than 12,000. The report found that among those screened, 102 tested HIV-positive, with 67 of the 91 patients not already receiving care getting connected with access to those services.
Each facility saw an increase in the number of patients screened after the programs were implemented. At UHP, the percentage of patients tested increased from 8% in 2010 to 56% during the study period, the report found. At ILH, the number of patients screened increased from 17% in 2012 to 26% in 2013 within the emergency department, and from 3% in 2012 to 17% during the study period within the hospital's urgent care center.
“Routine HIV screening with an active linkage element reduces the number of persons unaware of their HIV infection and links patients to medical care,” the report concluded. “These patients are then able to benefit from effective treatment to improve health and reduce transmission risk.”
Roughly 16% of the estimated 1.1 million Americans living with HIV in the U.S. are unaware of their infection status, according to the agency. Early detection among more of these individuals is viewed as being a key toward connecting them with appropriate treatment and reducing the rate of transmission.
The average annual number of newly infected HIV cases in the U.S. has remained between 40,000 and 50,000 for the past decade, according to the CDC. Globally, the rate of new cases of HIV is going down, with the number of newly infected decreasing from 2.5 million in 2011 to 2.3 million in 2012, according to a report released last December by the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
The report coincides with the CDC issuing updated guidelines on Thursday for HIV laboratory testing based on the approval of new tests in 2012 by the Food and Drug Administration, as well as new a gathering of new scientific evidence between 2007 and 2013.
Follow Steven Ross Johnson on Twitter: @MHsjohnson