In June 2006, the District of Columbia (DC) Department of Health launched a citywide rapid HIV screening campaign. Goals included raising HIV awareness, routinizing rapid HIV screening, identifying previously unrecognized infections, and linking positives to care. We describe findings from this seminal campaign and identify lessons learned.
We applied a mixed-methods approach using quantitative analysis of client data forms (CDFs) and qualitative evaluation of focus groups with DC residents. We measured characteristics and factors associated with client demographics, test results, and community perceptions regarding the campaign.
Data were available on 38,586 participants tested from July 2006 to September 2007. Of those, 68% had previously tested for HIV (44% within the last 12 months) and 23% would not have sought testing had it not been offered. Overall, 662 (1.7%) participants screened positive on the OraQuick® Advance™ rapid HIV test, with non-Hispanic black people, transgenders, and first-time testers being significantly more likely to screen positive for HIV than white people, males, and those tested within the last year, respectively. Of those screening positive for HIV, 47% had documented referrals for HIV care and treatment services. Focus groups reported continued stigma regarding HIV and minimal community saturation of the campaign.
This widespread campaign tested thousands of people and identified hundreds of HIV-infected individuals; however, referrals to care were lower than anticipated, and awareness of the campaign was limited. Lessons learned through this scale-up of population-based HIV screening resulted in establishing citywide HIV testing processes that laid the foundation for the implementation of test-and-treat activities in DC.