Implementing a Standardized Social Networks Testing Strategy in a Low HIV Prevalence Jurisdiction

AIDS Behav. 2019 Jan;23(Suppl 1):41-47. doi: 10.1007/s10461-018-2146-x.


Alternative HIV testing strategies are needed to engage individuals not reached by traditional clinical or non-clinical testing programs. A social networks recruitment strategy, in which people at risk for or living with HIV are enlisted and trained by community-based agencies to recruit individuals from their social, sexual, or drug-using networks for HIV testing, demonstrates higher positivity rates compared to other non-clinical recruitment strategies in some jurisdictions. During 2013-2015, a social networks testing protocol was implemented in Wisconsin to standardize an existing social networks testing program. Six community-based, non-clinical agencies with multiple sites throughout the state implemented the protocol over the 2-year period. Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected. The new positivity rate (0.49%) through social networks testing did not differ from that of traditional counseling, testing, and referral recruitment methods (0.48%). Although social networks testing did not yield a higher new positivity rate compared to other testing strategies, it proved to be successful at reaching high risk individuals who may not otherwise engage in HIV testing.

Keywords: Counseling; HIV testing; Referral; Social network; Testing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Patient Selection
  • Prevalence
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Networking*
  • United States / epidemiology