Methods: Our objective was to assess providers’ perspectives on barriers to and facilitators of HIV testing at an urban community health center serving a predominantly racial/ethnic minority population of low socio-economic status. Study staff conducted 5 focus groups from Jan. 2017 to Nov. 2017 with 74 health center staff: 20 adult medicine/primary care providers, 28 community health workers (CHWs), 6 urgent care physicians, 6 community health administrators, and 14 behavioral health providers. Each focus group ranged from 6 to 20 participants. In addition to exploring participants’ views on HIV testing in this setting, we also explored potential interventions to improve HIV testing. Interviews were digitally recorded. Data were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. We used open coding to develop themes and compared themes among provider groups.
Results: The main facilitators of routine HIV testing were clinical training in HIV/hepatitis care and CHWs engaging patients in topics that intersect with HIV risk factors. Providers’ perceptions of key barriers were patients’ cultural perceptions of HIV (e.g. HIV-related stigma), patients’ concerns about test confidentiality, competing medical and social issues, and provider lack of HIV knowledge. All groups agreed that HIV testing should occur through the primary care provider though acknowledged that patients may be seeking health care more frequently through mental health, urgent care, or social services than primary care. Primary care physicians wanted easier mechanisms to identify patients in need of HIV testing and assistance with offering the test to non-English language speaking patients.
Conclusion: Specific, focused efforts can lead to improved HIV testing in racial ethnic minorities in community health centers. Training to improve provider comfort, increasing CHW engagement, and a focus on patients’ cultural beliefs may all have an impact.
C. Cubbison, None
A. Tarbox, None
S. Oo, None
K. Freedberg, None
J. Levison, None