The Pennsylvania Expanded HIV Testing Initiative (PEHTI) is a statewide*, CDC-funded collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Health (Pa. DOH) and Penn State University focused on the implementation of the 2006 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines for routine integration of opt-out HIV screening into a broad range of general clinical care settings. The CDC estimates that 1.2 million Americans are living with HIV, and approximately 168,000 are unaware of their HIV positive status. Increasing the number of persons who are aware of their status is a critical strategy for preventing HIV infections. PEHTI aims to increase HIV screening among populations disproportionately affected by the HIV epidemic by providing resources to organizations who serve these groups – specifically, African American communities, men who have sex with men, and people who inject drugs.
In partnership with the Pa. DOH, PEHTI is committed to integrating HIV screening with Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), Sexually Transmitted Diseases or Infections (STD), and related screenings. Health care settings who collaborate with PEHTI may be eligible for various levels of support, including: reduced testing costs, free training and support, free medication and/or test kits, and an integrated fee for service contract.
PEHTI is using many different strategies to stop the spread of infections and diseases in Pennsylvania:
- Opt-out screening – PEHTI works to educate and provide training to clinics and healthcare professionals to practice the CDC’s recommendation of routine, opt-out screening, which is to perform an HIV screening after notifying the patient 1) the test will be performed and 2) the patient may decline or defer testing. Assent is inferred unless the patient declines testing.
- Expanded Testing – Based upon the 2007 CDC Initiative, the goal of Expanded Testing is to increase the availability and accessibility testing services, facilitate adoption of HIV, HCV, and STD screening in health-care settings, and increase identification of undiagnosed infections in populations disproportionately affected.
- Assistance in linkage to care – PEHTI works with the Pa. DOH to ensure access to care.
- Technical support and Training – PEHTI offers free technical support, reimbursement support, and training to clinics who offer HIV, HCV, and STD screening.
- Integrated testing – In certain situations, PEHTI provides test kits for the Hepatitis C Virus and/or Sexually Transmitted Diseases to be used with HIV tests for populations at risk of co-infections.
Early detection, tracking of referrals, and linkage to and retention in prevention/care is critical to the management and stopping the spread of the viruses and infections. Timely testing saves lives.
We welcome you to browse our website for ways you can get involved along with PEHTI in this effort to combat HIV. For more information or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.