Implementation of the North Carolina HIV Bridge Counseling Program to Facilitate Linkage and Reengagement in Care for Individuals Infected with HIV/AIDS

N C Med J. Jul-Aug 2018;79(4):210-217. doi: 10.18043/ncm.79.4.210.


BACKGROUND Statewide interventions are critical to meeting the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in this country. In 2012, the North Carolina Division of Public Health developed the North Carolina State Bridge Counselor program to improve linkage to and reengagement in care for newly diagnosed persons and persons living with HIV who were out-of-care.METHODS We reviewed the planning process for the North Carolina State Bridge Counselor program, which involved a review of existing strengths-based counseling models for persons living with HIV, implementation of these models, and communication strategies with other providers. State bridge counselor responsibilities were delineated from the role of disease intervention specialists while retaining the fieldwork capability of disease intervention specialists to conduct outreach and provide services for persons living with HIV throughout the state.RESULTS Program implementation required extensive planning with stakeholders, incorporation of strengths-based counseling models, development of performance standards, and utilization of CAREWare, an HIV care software program to document referrals and data-sharing between state bridge counselors and clinics. By the end of 2014, state bridge counselor services were provided to approximately 60 of the 400 persons living with HIV (15%) who are diagnosed each quarter in North Carolina, with increasing utilization of the program.LIMITATIONS We assessed the development of this intervention specific to the North Carolina Division of Public Health, which may limit its generalizability. However, the State Bridge Counselor program was implemented in both urban and rural areas throughout the state, which increases its applicability to different public health programs throughout the country.CONCLUSION We demonstrated that a statewide State Bridge Counselor program for linkage and reengagement activities can be implemented by leveraging existing infrastructures, electronic medical records, HIV care networks, and fieldwork activities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Counseling*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control*
  • HIV Infections / psychology
  • Health Plan Implementation
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • North Carolina
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Referral and Consultation*