In 1988, the Unlinked HIV Seroprevalence Surveys in Publicly Funded STD Clinics were implemented in order to obtain unbiased HIV prevalence estimates among patients presenting at sexually transmitted disease clinics in Los Angeles County. For the past 10 years, the data collected for the unlinked seroprevalence study have proven invaluable in terms of monitoring trends of HIV prevalence among STD patients in Los Angeles County. HIV seroprevalence surveys conducted in this high-risk population provide critical information for planning the allocation of scarce HIV/AIDS resources and the development of funding priorities in Los Angeles County.
- To obtain unbiased estimates of HIV seroprevalence for STD patients overall and for subgroups defined by gender, age group, race/ethnicity, geographic location and risk exposure/behavior variables.
- To monitor trends in HIV infection by demographic and risk exposure/behavior subgroups.
- To identify subgroups at highest risk for HIV infection and, therefore, in need of more comprehensive HIV/AIDS prevention programs.
The Los Angeles County HIV Epidemiology Program in collaboration with four STD clinics (Central Health Center, Curtis Tucker Health Center, Hollywood-Wilshire Health Center, and South Heath Center) conducts the unlinked seroprevalence study. STD clients eligible for the unlinked serosurvey are those with routine blood work (e.g., syphilis serology) conducted during a clinic visit. After laboratory results have been obtained for syphilis blood specimens, leftover serum is secured for unlinked HIV testing. The Los Angeles County Public Health Laboratory conducts HIV-antibody testing after all patient identifiers are removed from each tube of remnant serum. Results of the unlinked HIV tests are forwarded to the HIV Epidemiology Program and are matched to behavioral survey information (see RBIS study) and STD diagnoses collected during each client's clinic visit. Unbiased estimates of HIV prevalence in the STD clinics are based on the sample of clients who accept and refuse confidential HIV testing.
Trista Bingham, M.P.H.
Shannon Hanrahan, M.A.
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