Baltimore youth need better access to HIV testing
A recent survey published in Public Health Reports determined that the prevalence of HIV testing provided by organizations serving young people was low in Baltimore, Md., and they lack established links to refer youth to HIV testing.
“Evidence suggests that young people, particularly members of sexual minority populations, hold favorable options about HIV testing in community organizations and view such places as key access points for support of their psychosocial needs,” Arik V. Marcell, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues wrote. “Despite the potential of community organizations to provide HIV testing for young people, little is known about the prevalence of HIV testing at community organizations or the organizational characteristics associated with HIV testing provision.”
Researchers surveyed 51 youth-serving, community-based organizations with identified high concentrations of young minority men aged 15 to 24 in Baltimore, Md. between February 2013 and March 2014. Over telephone and in-person, Marcell and colleagues asked the organizations whether they provided HIV screening or testing. They collected data on services offered, organizational setting, and client and staff member characteristics using Poisson regression analysis to assess the association between testing and organizational characteristics.
Out of the surveyed organizations, 21 (41%) provided HIV testing, whereas only 7 of the 30 organizations without HIV testing offered links to refer youth to testing sites. The investigators found that organizations that offered HIV testing were more likely to provide general health services (RR = 4.57; 95% CI, 1.68-12.48; P =.003), HIV care (RR = 4.78; 95% CI, 1.61-14.21; P = .005) and referral services for STI screening (RR = 5.77; 95% CI, 1.70-19.59; P = .005). They also observed correlation between delivery of HIV testing and how comfortable staff members were discussing sexual health (RR = 3.29; 95% CI, 1.28-8.49; P = .01).
“This study demonstrates the need for more transparent cross-collaboration between clinical and nonclinical realms that serve youth,” Marcell said in the press release. “Having a better understanding of community-based organizations that serve youth can help clinical settings and HIV testing programs improve the access to youth being tested, especially in cities with high rates of HIV, such as Baltimore.” – by Savannah Demko
Disclosure: Marcell reports no relevant financial disclosures.