Strengthening HIV Prevention Services Through an Implementation Science Approach: Perspectives From the HIV Testers in Philadelphia.
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BACKGROUND: Strengthening HIV prevention services is a key priority of the Ending the HIV Epidemic plan. Informed by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research, we examined HIV testers' perceived barriers and facilitators to implementing HIV prevention services, including testers' strengths and weaknesses; enabling factors within the inner and outer settings; and willingness to adopt potential implementation strategies.
METHODS: In 2019, the Penn Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) partnered with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health (PDPH) to examine system-level challenges and opportunities experienced by PDPH-funded HIV testers (individuals conducting HIV testing) in Philadelphia. We recruited HIV testers to complete 2 web surveys (n ≈ 40 each) and in-depth interviews (n = 11).
RESULTS: Testers self-reported high HIV testing self-efficacy and competence, despite identifying gaps in their knowledge of STI testing, reporting moderate willingness to recommend pre-exposure prophylaxis, and having insufficient cultural competency when working with priority populations. Testers indicated that educational materials and policies within their agencies might require realignment to affirm sexual and gender minority clients. In qualitative interviews, testers noted challenges to implementing PDPH priorities because limited funding fueled competition between local agencies, deterred interagency partnerships, and limited their ability to serve key populations locally.
DISCUSSION: HIV testers are critical partners in addressing agency-level barriers to HIV prevention service provision through multilevel implementation strategies. In partnership with PDPH, we will create and implement a train-the-trainers program consisting of skill-building activities, technical assistance, and capacity-building for all agency personnel to address missed opportunities in HIV prevention. These activities will reinforce scalability and sustainability of PDPH-supported HIV prevention programs.
J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr