The HIV Care Continuum in Small Cities of Southern New England: Perspectives of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Public Health Experts, and HIV Service Providers

AIDS Behav. 2020 Oct 1. doi: 10.1007/s10461-020-03049-z. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

The HIV care continuum (HCC), comprised of five steps (screening, linkage to care, treatment initiation, retention, and viral suppression), is used to monitor treatment delivery to people living with HIV (PLWH). The HCC has primarily focused on large urban or metropolitan areas where the situation may differ from that in smaller cities. Three themes (i.e., knowledge, stigma, stability) that shaped HCC outcomes were identified from analysis of two qualitative studies involving HIV service providers, public health experts, and PLWH in smaller cities of southern New England. The findings suggest that enhancing HCC outcomes require a multiprong approach that targets both the individual and organizational levels and includes interventions to increase health literacy, staff communication skills, universal screening to assess patients' religiosity/spirituality and supplemental service needs. Interventions that further ensure patient confidentiality and the co-location and coordination of HIV and other healthcare services are particularly important in smaller cities.

Keywords: HIV care continuum; HIV treatment cascade; HIV/AIDS; Religiosity/spirituality.