Integrating HCV & HIV Testing in Public Health
Recently, NASTAD, in partnership with the Association for Public Health Laboratories, released Integrating HIV and HCV Testing, a toolkit designed to support health departments in their efforts to strengthen HIV and HCV testing and linkage programs. As we head toward May, Hepatitis Awareness Month, it is important to share tools and resources that partners can use to increase viral hepatitis testing and education.
Increasingly, health departments are seeking new strategies to improve the productivity and yield of HIV testing and linkage programs, expand availability of and access to testing for HCV, and to optimize public health resources. To address the ongoing opioid crisis and the needs of communities at risk including people who inject drugs and gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men, the ability to detect both HIV and HCV is critical for successful prevention and linkage to treatment efforts. Integration of HIV and HCV testing services, at multiple levels including partnering with public health laboratories, can help health departments achieve these aims.
One strategy that can be effective is integrating services and enhancing collaboration between programs and public health laboratories. The toolkit has a set of annotated slides developed to assist health departments and public health laboratories in communicating and applying the information and strategies.
The toolkit and associated slides:
- Provide health departments with current information regarding HIV and HCV testing technologies;
- Describe factors health departments should consider in determining when integration of testing is beneficial; and
- Discuss how various testing technologies and strategies for using these technologies can facilitate integration.
Too many people living with chronic hepatitis C infection are still unaware of their status. To achieve the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan’s goal of reducing deaths and improving the health of people living with viral hepatitis, the Action Plan calls for identifying persons infected with viral hepatitis early in the course of their disease. To do so, it will be necessary to enhance the capacity of the workforce to diagnose viral hepatitis and provide care and treatment to persons living with chronic viral hepatitis. The innovative approach of integrating health department HIV and HCV testing and linkage programs detailed in the NASTAD and APHL toolkit may be one way that health departments and public health laboratories can enhance their efforts to reach these objectives.
Publicize Your Ongoing Testing & Vaccination Services
If your organization provides ongoing hepatitis testing and vaccination services, please visit https://gettested.cdc.gov/ and fill out an online form to make sure your services are registered within their database. This site is a tool for people to enter their zip code and find ongoing services in their area.
To access the toolkit, visit the NASTAD site.
Publicize your #hepatitis testing & vaccination locations during May #HepAware and use @NASTAD and @APHL Toolkit- Integrating HIV and HCV Testing- to strengthen your testing efforts during Hepatitis Awareness Month and beyond! https://go.usa.gov/xmk5N