Program Introduction and Goals
Part of the growing HIV prevention toolkit is a focus on linking or re-engaging HIV-diagnosed persons to care since HIV treatment confers important individual-level health benefits and population-level prevention benefits. Data to Care is one strategy for identifying these individuals, by using HIV surveillance data routinely collected by state and local health departments, and then linking to or re-engaging them in care. Applying the proven public health strategy of using surveillance data to intervene directly in disease control reflects a shift from the more typical use of HIV surveillance data for descriptive and monitoring purposes.
Data to Care programs use laboratory reports received by a health department’s HIV surveillance program as markers of HIV care and analyze them to identify individuals who either never linked to care after diagnosis or who did not continue to receive care. The program then offers individuals on this list for outreach by health departments, providers, or both to assist them with getting into HIV care.
CDC promotes HIV prevention strategies, such as Data to Care, that are consistent with the National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals of decreasing HIV transmission and increasing the number of HIV-diagnosed persons linked to care. Jurisdictions should include use of HIV surveillance data for prevention programming as one part of their comprehensive strategy for linkage and re-engagement in care activities. Such a strategy might include multiple approaches for identifying HIV-diagnosed individuals not in care and linking them to or re-engaging them in care, including expanded HIV screening services, linkage to care interventions such as ARTAS, and other case management and peer-based interventions.
Goals of the Data to Care Strategy
- Increase the number of HIV-diagnosed individuals who are engaged in HIV care, and
- Increase the number of HIV-diagnosed persons with an undetectable viral load.
Laboratory reporting to health departments of CD4 and viral load results are a primary data source for identifying individuals who were never linked to care after diagnosis or who did not continue to receive care. By using information from HIV surveillance systems to trigger linkage and re-engagement outreach and assess participation in care, jurisdictions can help ensure improved health outcomes for individuals and reductions in new HIV infections.