Faster and more frequent testing
The H-TEAM also focuses on fostering early diagnosis by developing and implementing HIV testing strategies aimed at target groups that are difficult to reach and often enter care late. By ensuring that as many people as possible know their HIV status, the H-TEAM wants to halt the HIV epidemic.
Faster and more frequent testing: why?
Faster recognition of the early symptoms of HIV ensures that people can start treatment earlier. Early treatment prevents deterioration of the immune system and gives people an excellent life expectancy. If people are treated in time, they can live as long as people without HIV. Moreover, effective anti-retroviral (ART) treatment largely reduces or even eliminates the chance of transmitting infections.
Faster and more frequent testing
The H-TEAM promotes testing by raising awareness of the (early) symptoms and the importance of early testing among professionals and specific target groups. The aims are:
- More HIV testing and an increase in the percentage of people who know their HIV status
- Being able to diagnose HIV earlier
>>> We accomplish this by focusing on:
HIV testing offered by professionals such as GPs and hospitals
mapping the characteristics of individuals that enter care late in order to develop tailor-made interventions for this group
testing initiated and implemented by individuals and communities themselves
facilitating fast and effective partner notification through Team Partner Management of the STI clinic
Scroll down to learn more about these strategies and subprojects.
Of all HIV patients in the Netherlands, around one third are diagnosed by a general practitioner, one third at a local public health service STI outpatient clinic, and one third in a hospital. This means that GPs and hospitals play an important role in diagnosing HIV infections in the Netherlands.
However, recent studies demonstrate that many opportunities for offering HIV testing are not being identified or utilized sufficiently frequently by healthcare providers. Patients and professionals still experience barriers such as fear, stigmatization, limited risk assessment and risk perception, and lack of knowledge about new HIV treatment and prevention opportunities. Furthermore, HIV testing in case of indicator diseases is not yet standard procedure among general practitioners and medical specialists. By offering interactive training sessions, the H-TEAM aims to improve testing behavior among GPs. In addition, the H-TEAM wants to promote proactive HIV testing by medical specialists through an indicator-based testing intervention.
The Last Mile
In 2016, in Amsterdam approximately 350 persons were not aware of their HIV infection (6% of the total number of people estimated to be living with HIV in Amsterdam, SHM Monitoring report 2016). “The Last Mile” refers to finding and diagnosing this last 6%, and particularly those who are at risk of presenting with a late-stage infection.
We still know too little about people who enter care late. To develop a successful strategy, we need more detailed insight into the different characteristics of this highly diverse group. In phase 1 of the project, these characteristics will be investigated in several subprojects. Based on the collected data, innovative interventions will be developed together with specific key population groups in phase 2.
Scroll down to learn more about the three subprojects.
Client-initiated / community-based testing
H-TEAM encourages communities to address the need for HIV testing from within the community itself, with an emphasis on testing for, by, and in the community itself.