Health communication plays an important role in promoting HIV testing, encouraging engagement in care, initiating treatment, and supporting retention in care with the ultimate goal of viral suppression.
While the expansion of viral load testing is recommended and improvements in efficiencies at the facility level are necessary, the power of in-service communication and counseling at the facility level or through linkages with community-based support systems has a crucial role to play. Integration of behavioral approaches facilitated by health communication within and across the continuum of care will determine the degree, and speed, of our collective success.
According to a 2015 UNAIDS report, one of the three fundamental pillars for scaling up treatment is creating demand for HIV treatment. The report recognizes that community-led campaigns and other initiatives are ‘vital to expanding and sustaining access to life-saving treatment services’ and that intensifying educational efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of early therapy to individuals and societies are needed.
The period between testing and treatment is often perilous, with loss of patients at each step of the cascade, beginning with patients who never collect their CD4 count results and ending with those who, although eligible, do not initiate ART. The continuum of care is therefore not a simple linear process, as clients enter and leave, with losses occurring throughout.
In the newest Trending Topic, HIV and AIDS, Health Communication, and the Continuum of Care, the Health COMpass presents tools and resources that address health communication needs across the HIV and AIDS continuum of care.
We welcome your submission of additional resources to the Health COMpass and any contributions that further demonstrate effective health communication interventions and tools that improve retention across the continuum.