Sharing What Works in HIV and Hepatitis C Testing and Linkage to Care

Community health centers go the distance to make sure that as many people who need care get it. Whether a patient is at risk for HIV or hepatitis C or has been diagnosed and needs medical care, Alameda Health Consortium (AHC) member health centers creatively reach out. Our HIV ACCESS  and Get East Bay Tested! teams just wrapped up presentations in Washington, DC and Chicago where they shared effective ways they boost HIV and hepatitis C testing and linkage to care.

At the 2016 National Ryan White Conference, audiences learned how the East Bay linkage and retention network has developed protocols and tools, shared resources, and applied client-centered techniques to connect HIV patients to care.

They also shared the results for linkage and for the HIV testing initiative, Get East Bay Tested. For instance, the average increase in monthly testing rates at a health center following a work flow training was 40%. Linkage-to-care rates in Alameda County increased from 70% in 2012 to 73% in 2013, and among HIV ACCESS clinics the rates increased from 83% in 2014 to 94% in 2015.  More than 80 participants from around the country attended the conference session on linkage to care.

In a separate HIV testing session, Get East Bay Tested! clinical advisor (and HIV ACCESS Medical Director) Dr. Sophy Wong presented alongside her counterpart from a hospital Emergency Department in Philadelphia; similar themes arose for both programs, despite the widely different settings. Session participants were particularly interested in learning more about how Get East Bay Tested! addressed clinicians’ reluctance to test.

The work presented at the Ryan White conference is a combined effort of HIV ACCESS and FOCUS Get East Bay Tested! HIV ACCESS represents a group of community workers, case managers, public health and clinic administrators working to ensure that all people living with HIV in Alameda County receive high quality, affordable primary medical care. Get East Bay tested!, a collaborative of Alameda Health Consortium and five member health centers, aims to integrate routine opt-out HIV and hepatitis C testing and linkage to care with funding from the FOCUS program of Gilead Sciences.

At the National Association of Community Health Centers Community Health Institute (NACHC CHI) in Chicago, AHC shared how Get East Bay Tested! applies similar capacity building strategies to boost hepatitis C linkage to care. In January 2015, four Alameda Health Consortium member health centers began a hepatitis C screening project and identified a need to expand their internal ability to manage and treat chronic hepatitis C. They found that a collaborative learning approach increased their ability to manage and treat hepatitis C without relying on specialists.  Among shared strategies that work – 1) support from health center leadership, 2) on-site mentorship; and, 3) using a linkage navigator to connect patients to treatment.