Courtenay-Quirk C, Pals S, Howard AA, Ujamaa D, Henjewele C, Munuo G, Urasa P, Nyamkara M.
AIDS Care. 2018 Jul 18:1-5. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2018.1499863.
Couples HIV testing for tuberculosis (TB) patients and their partners may be an effective means to identify HIV-positive persons and strengthen linkage to HIV care. We evaluated an intervention to increase HIV testing and linkage to care (LTC) of newly diagnosed persons and re-linkage for TB/HIV patients in Pwani, Tanzania. In 2014, 12 TB settings within two regional clusters participated; each cluster included ≥1 referral hospital, health center, and directly observed therapy center. Three months after introducing tools to record HIV service delivery, TB clinic staff and peer education volunteers in Cluster 1 received training on HIV partner testing and linkage/re-linkage, and staff in the second cluster received training 3 months thereafter. Twelve months after tools were introduced, clinic records were abstracted to assess changes in couples HIV testing, LTC, and re-linkage. Staff interviews assessed the feasibility and acceptability of the service delivery model. HIV prevalence was high among TB patients during the study period (44.9%; 508/1132), as well as among others who received HIV testing (19.8%; 253/1288). Compared to pre-implementation, couples HIV testing increased in both clusters from 1.8% to 35.2%. Documented LTC increased (from 5.7% to 50.0%) following the introduction of the tools. Additional increases in LTC (from 57.9% to 79.3%) and re-linkage (from 32.9% to 53.7%) followed Cluster 1 training, but no additional increases after Cluster 2 training. Staff perceived little burden associated with service delivery. This study demonstrated a feasible, low-burden approach to expand couples HIV testing and linkage of HIV-positive persons to care. TB settings in sub-Saharan Africa serve populations at disproportionate risk for HIV infection and should be considered key venues to expand access to effective HIV prevention strategies for both patients and their partners. HIV services in TB settings should include HIV testing, condom distribution, and linkage to appropriate additional services.