In the Spring of 2013, staff of the National Health Care (HCH) for the Homeless Council in collaboration with Dr. Cathie Fogg, Associate Nursing Professor at St. Anslem College in Manchester, NH conducted a survey of HCH clinic staff regarding their HIV testing practices. The purpose of this survey was primarily to collect information about how HCH staff felt about administering HIV screenings, what the HIV screening practices were at various HCH clinics, and what was needed to improve screening among people who are experiencing homelessness. A total of 166 HCH program staff, spanning across disciplines, responded to the survey, with 146 who fully completed it.
More than half (77%) reported Health Care for the Homeless, 330(h) funds as their primary funding source. Additional funding streams often included Community Health Center 330(e) (36%) and Ryan White HIV/AIDS (31%). Interestingly, among those that reported receiving Ryan White funds, more than half (67%) indicated that these funds were used to conduct outreach to bring individuals in for HIV testing.
When respondents were asked about their individual experiences with HIV testing at their clinic location, 78% reported they were responsible for directly informing clients that HIV testing was available at their organization even though they themselves were not necessarily responsible for conducting any HIV screens. More than half (52%) reported that they felt their organization was successful in providing HIV testing to all individuals who are eligible based on recommendations outlined by the U.S. Preventive Services and the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In relation to the screening practices utilized among respondents, more than 30% reported that Routine-Rapid HIV testing (i.e., test results given the same day) is offered to all patients during the time of their appointment. Staff who provide Routine-Rapid HIV tests, agreed/strongly agreed that:
- Individuals experiencing homelessness have a higher incidence of HIV (56%),
- Ensuring all adults (18 and older) receive HIV testing is important at their organization (80%),
- HIV testing solely on the basis of risk behaviors may fail to identify many HIV-infected individuals (90%), and
- Offering Routine-Rapid HIV testing to all patients is a valuable service to all HCH patients (88%)
Among HCH clinic staff not currently offering Routine-Rapid HIV testing, more than half (82%) are willing to be trained to administer the test and (64%) think Routine-Rapid HIV testing can be integrated into the day-to-day process of their organization with minimal disruption and flow. More information about this survey and findings that emerged will be available later this fall on the National HCH Council’s website. If you have any questions regarding the survey, please contact Caroline Gumpenberger, Director of Education, or Dr. Darlene Jenkins, Senior Director of Programs.