A New Way To Deliver HIV Results: Over the Phone
By CHAR ADAMS
Men who have sex with men (MSM) account for a large number of new HIV diagnoses. Because of this, improving HIV testing rates and increasing early detection in the group is crucial. But barriers like HIV stigma, lack of privacy, and fear make getting tested difficult.
Now a group of researchers from CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and the CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health are pointing to an unexpected tool to overcome these barriers: a phone.
“Phone delivery of HIV-positive results may obviate some of the hurdles to in-person testing while maintaining direct linkage to care and some of the features of emotional support afforded by in-person counseling,” the authors note in the study published in the AIDS and Behavior journal.
From 2018 to 2019, researchers interviewed 50 MSM who had gotten positive HIV test results through the phone. The men answered questions about everything from their acceptance of their results to concerns about the delivery method. Overall, the respondents had a positive attitude toward having their results delivered over the phone.
“Participants praised the support and information provided by study staff,” the authors noted. “Benefits identified included increased convenience compared to in-person medical visits, allowing participants to emotionally process their test results privately, as well as receiving the results from supportive and responsive staff members.”
However, some did highlight some downsides to the strategy. Drawbacks included getting the phone calls at less-than-ideal times (like during work) and the lack of in-person emotional support. Still, researchers concluded that phone delivery could be a good way to deliver results in the midst of stigma, fear, and privacy concerns.
“At-home testing with phone delivery has the potential to increase HIV testing access, especially to geographically isolated or medically underserved patients,” the group concluded.