USAID Implements a New Treatment Initiative to Improve Overall Health Outcomes for People with HIV

Speeches Shim

Friday, January 8, 2021

Starting HIV treatment on the same day as receiving an HIV positive diagnosis is key to ensure maximal linkage rates. However, due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and new policies that prohibited use of email to send HIV-confirmatory results, same-day HIV diagnosis and treatment initiation was significantly reduced during the first quarter of 2020. To address communication shortfalls and underscore the importance of providing quick HIV confirmatory results, the USAID Sustainable HIV and TB Responses from Technical Assistance project modified standard operating procedures to align with new regulations. At the same time, project-supported community health workers were trained to do motivational counseling and the importance of same-day treatment initiation. With additional skills and knowledge, these community health workers were able to coach clients through the process and reduce pre-enrollment attrition. As a result, same-day HIV treatment initiation rose from 32 percent in April to 92 percent of clients who confirmed HIV positive were successfully initiated on treatment within 24 hours in November.

So What? Quick treatment initiation improves overall health outcomes of HIV patients by controlling HIV viral loads as early as possible. It also takes Vietnam one step closer to achieving its goal of eliminating HIV transmission by 2030.