While many approaches have been used to help diagnose HIV early, social media networks seem to be doing the trick.
Samuel R. Friedman from the National Development of Research Institutes has commended this.
Outreach strategies have proven hard for this particular disease, and common strategies and resources have drained economies without showing much in the way of results; an example of this is Ukraine. Many people are just left undiagnosed and untreated.
However, this new method of finding those who have contracted HIV has become much easier in this ground-breaking strategy. Friedman said: “Tracing social and risk networks has been found to help locate people recently infected with HIV, given that the virus is transmitted through sexual and injection risk networks.”
As social norms surrounding this disease tend to leave those who have it not seeking treatment, by identifying people this way, the stigmas surrounding HIV testing are reduced, which should increase the number of people seeking treatment.
In their project, researchers have identified HIV by comparing three case studies: The Transmission Reduction Intervention Project (TRIP), integrated biobehavioral surveillance, and outreach testing.
Overall, they found that recruiting the risk networks of people infected with HIV through TRIP led to locating a significantly higher rate of people with HIV that have been left undiagnosed than did either integrated biobehavioral surveillance or outreach testing.
TRIP looked at two types of “seeds” – those recently infected plus their risk network members, as well as those with longer-term HIV infections and their networks.
As well as proving to have the best results in regards to outreach efficiency, they are the most cost-effective method as the cost for each undiagnosed positive, it was $250, and for the others the exceeded $350 each. TRIP has proven to be very successful in Ukraine and similar results have been found in Athens and San Diego.
This global phenomenon is sure to change the face of diagnosing HIV and AIDS, which in turn should help combat the stigmas and the spreading of the disease.
TRIP tested 1,252 people for HIV, 183 (14.6 percent) of whom were HIV positive; the integrated biobehavioral surveillance project tested 400 people and found 20 (5 percent) undiagnosed cases of HIV, while outreach testing was conducted on 13,936 people and found 331 (2.4 percent) undiagnosed cases of HIV.