Home > Establishment of a national surveillance system to monitor community HIV testing, Ireland, 2018.

Brady, Melissa and Shanley, Adam and Hurley, Caroline and O'Donnell, Kate and O'Tuathail, Maitiu and Fitzgerald, Margaret and Flynn, Cillian and Carson, Richard and Igoe, Derval (2020) Establishment of a national surveillance system to monitor community HIV testing, Ireland, 2018. Irish Journal of Medical Science, 189, (4), pp. 1507-1514. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-020-02217-3.

HIV continues to be an important public health issue. Voluntary community-based HIV testing (VCBT) helps to reduce the undiagnosed population of HIV-positive individuals, enabling early diagnosis and treatment. Monitoring is essential to determine whether at-risk groups are being effectively reached.

Our aim was to pilot and then introduce sustained monitoring of VCBT in Ireland, through collaboration between statutory and non-statutory organisations.

The study was initiated by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre in 2018. Steps included forming a multisectoral steering group and developing a minimum standardised dataset. De-identified case-based data were requested for VCBT carried out from 1 January 2017 onwards; this paper includes data for 2018.

Six organisations participated; all four NGOs involved in VCBT, one medical charity, and the Health Service Executive National Social Inclusion Office. Methods were rapid point-of-care testing (POCT) (54%) or laboratory based (46%). Total HIV test reactivity was 1.7% (1.5% excluding persons later identified as previously diagnosed HIV positive). All POCT data were case based; the test reactivity rate was 0.8% and was higher in bar/club settings (1.2%). Most (74%) laboratory testing data were in aggregate format; the test positivity rate in one asylum centre was 5.0%. Ongoing challenges include testing among persons later identified as previously diagnosed HIV positive, monitoring case-based testing in asylum settings, and suboptimal data on confirmatory testing and linkage to care.

Sustained national monitoring in community settings will help inform HIV testing guidelines and will enable assessment of the impact of local and regional community HIV testing strategies.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, Article
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco), Opioid
Intervention Type
Screening / Assessment
November 2020
Identification #
Page Range
pp. 1507-1514
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