How Best to Lure People for HIV Testing?

February 26, 2014

(AUDIO) Now that HIV testing is universally mandated, what are the best ways to reach into a community to find those who remain untested? In this brief recorded interview, the head of a study designed to test two approaches describes why either one is better than the status quo.

HIV testing and treatment may be highly effective, but only for those who actually receive them. How can delivery of care be improved by encouraging more people -- especially in under-served communities such as among African Americans -- to learn whether or not they need this care?

Sandra McCoy PhD MPH and her colleagues in Oakland CA have completed a small pilot study testing two different approaches -- financial incentives and peer recruitment -- as a way to reach previously untested individuals. In a brief recorded interview, she presents the surprising and encouraging results.

Dr. McCoy is Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UN Berkeley.

The questions: 

Q.  Tell us a little bit about your findings and what the findings mean

Q.  The conventional approach was ... what?

Q.  I'm curious as to whether you're planning a study to compare peer-based testing versus an incentive alone.

Q.  Do we see incentives in other public health areas ... as effective?

Q.  Are we seeing incentives also being used to improve adherence and even secondary prevention?

Key quotes:

"What we found was that there was essentially no difference between these two approaches. However ... we found that our approach, using peer recruitment and financial incentives, was much, much more efficient than the standard practices occurring at the community-based  organizations."

"It would be really interesting as a next step to compare having an incentive versus no incentive alone ...  but in Oakland most of the community based centers are using an incentive already."

"Certainly incentives are an under-utilized approach for increasing people's access to and utilization of HIV prevention and treatment care services."

References:

McCoy SI, Shiu K, Martz TE et al, Improving the Efficiency of HIV Testing With Peer Recruitment, Financial Incentives, and the Involvement of Persons Living With HIV Infection. JAIDS Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (2013) 63:e56–e63
doi: 10.1097/QAI.0b013e31828a7629