Public Health Benefit of Peer-Referral Strategies for Detecting Undiagnosed HIV Infection Among High-Risk Heterosexuals in New York City
Identifying undiagnosed HIV infection is necessary for the elimination of HIV transmission in the United States. The present study evaluated the efficacy of 3 community-based approaches for uncovering undiagnosed HIV among heterosexuals at high-risk (HHR), who are mainly African American/Black and Hispanic. Heterosexuals comprise 24% of newly reported HIV infections in the United States, but experience complex multilevel barriers to HIV testing. We recruited African American/Black and Hispanic HHR in a discrete urban area with both elevated HIV prevalence and poverty rates. Approaches tested were (1) respondent-driven sampling (RDS) and confidential HIV testing in 2 sessions (n = 3116); (2) RDS and anonymous HIV testing in one session (n = 498); and (3) venue-based sampling (VBS) and HIV testing in a single session (n = 403). The main outcome was newly diagnosed HIV infection. RDS with anonymous testing and one session reached HHR with less HIV testing experience and more risk factors than the other approaches. Furthermore, RDS with anonymous (4.0%) and confidential (1.0%) testing yielded significantly higher rates of newly diagnosed HIV than VBS (0.3%). Thus peer-referral approaches were more efficacious than VBS for uncovering HHR with undiagnosed HIV, particularly a single-session/anonymous strategy, and have a vital role to play in efforts to eliminate HIV transmission.