Eight Questions Can Help You Determine if You Need HIV Testing

Speeches Shim

Friday, November 27, 2020

Most people do not want to take an HIV/AIDS test unless they have obvious symptoms. No one wants to believe that they are at risk. Medical experts know that a person is at a higher risk of having HIV positive if they have certain symptoms or diseases, but even a doctor might miss subtle clues that a test is needed.

To help doctors assess who might fall into the high-risk group, even with no obvious symptoms, USAID’s HealthLink activity created a short questionnaire that they can give to their patients. It is a list of just eight questions focusing on risky behaviors instead of symptoms. If a person answers “yes” at least once, the doctor suggests that they get tested for HIV.

USAID HealthLink worked together with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Ukraine’s Center of Public Health to pilot the new questionnaire to test its effectiveness.

“We’ve had cases when neither the person nor the doctor would have ever suspected an infection. But when the screening suggested otherwise and the patient took the HIV test, the infection was detected,” said Tetyana Hlyadchyshyna, a social worker at the Chernihiv NETWORK charitable organization.

Ms. Hlyadchyshyna noted that most HIV infections occurred among people who had unprotected sex or injected drugs. In Chernihiv Oblast, 73 percent of newly diagnosed persons were infected through sexual transmission, while another 26 percent were infected through injected drug use.

After the successful pilot, USAID HealthLink expanded the use of the questionnaire to 350 healthcare facilities in 12 oblasts. USAID is also developing mobile testing points so that Chernihiv residents can get quick and free HIV testing near their homes. 

Thanks to USAID’s HealthLink activity, since July 2020, social workers organized 28 mobile visits in Chernihiv Oblast. They tested 484 people for HIV for free, and 10 were surprised to receive a positive result. HealthLink put those 10 people in contact with the Center for AIDS Prevention and Control to get medication.

USAID’s HealthLink activity put the questionnaire on a new website -- http://www.fivetests.in.ua. Anyone can use the site to find out if a doctor would recommend that they take a test. USAID HealthLink is supporting a campaign throughout Chernihiv to encourage employers in the region to invite their employees to take the online survey. If they do and subsequently decide to have an HIV test, the test is free.