CDC: Across 20 PEPFAR countries, index testing for HIV doubled diagnosis rates

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Tracing and offering HIV tests to exposed partners and children of people living with the virus led to twice the rate of positive tests than all other HIV testing interventions combined across 20 countries between 2016 to 2018, according to an analysis in the current Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The approach, in which people with HIV voluntarily provide information on sexual and/or needle sharing partners, as well as on biological children, who are then contacted and provided the opportunity to be tested for the virus, is known as index testing, contact tracing, or partner notification and has been recommended in World Health Organization guidelines since 2016. At that time, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief began gathering data on the results of index testing across countries receiving PEPFAR support for the intervention.

The report analyzes data from 66 million tests administered by CDC-supported PEPFAR partner programs through all testing approaches, with 70% provided in service settings, and 30% provided in community-based settings. Among all tests of people younger than15 years old, 1% of tests yielded positive results, and among tests administered to people aged 15 or older, 4.1% of tests yielded positive results. Among testing of reported contacts, 1.5% of tests administered to people younger than 15 yielded positive results, and 9.8% of those administered to people aged 15 and older were positive. Men, a critical, but underserved population to reach with HIV testing opportunities comprised 45% of those reached through index testing.

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