Use of an Outreach Coordinator to Reengage and Retain Patients with HIV in Care

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It is well established that retention in high-quality care and regular visits with an HIV/AIDS provider improve outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA). However, nationally and regionally in South Carolina, retention rates remain low. We piloted an outreach program focused on characterizing out of care (OOC) patients to identify PLWHA who were lost to care and attempt reengagement through phone call, letter, and home visit interventions. Primary outcomes were reengagement, defined as attendance to a clinic appointment, and retention in care, defined by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) definition (two visits at least 90 days apart in 2015). There were 1242 adult clinic patients in 2014. A total of 233 patients were included in the OOC cohort, according to the inclusion criteria. Of these 233, the outreach coordinator found that a majority of patients, 119 (51%), were lost to care. Reengagement was seen in 52 (44%) patients lost to care, and among those who reengaged, 26 (50%) were retained in care in 2015. This report represents one of few interventions that target reengagement for patients who are lost to care. The use of an outreach coordinator was successful in reengaging and retaining patients in care. It represents an uncomplicated intervention, functional within the current clinic design and available funding structure of the Ryan White grant. Poor engagement and retention in care continue to be significant problems among PLWHA with resultant poor clinical outcomes. Continued focus on new interventions to improve retention in care is necessary to improve clinical outcomes.

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