Respond quickly to potential HIV outbreaks to get vital prevention and treatment services to people who need them

Real-time response systems are key to ending the HIV epidemic in the United States. New laboratory and epidemiological approaches help us identify communities affected by rapid HIV transmission resulting from gaps in prevention and care services. CDC and local public health agencies can respond swiftly and close the gaps by getting people the services they need to slow or even prevent HIV outbreaks. CDC’s efforts also align with the recently updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Indispensable community engagement

When an HIV cluster or outbreak is identified, public health agencies can engage with a range of interested parties including health care providers, people with HIV, HIV advocates and organizations, and other community leaders. These groups can collaborate to identify gaps in existing prevention and care services, and to design tailored interventions that address their community’s specific needs. HIV responses seek to reach all people in networks experiencing rapid HIV transmission, including people with undiagnosed HIV, people with diagnosed HIV who might not be accessing HIV care or other services, and people who do not have HIV but would benefit from prevention services.

Long-lasting community benefits

Response efforts can be scaled to the size and characteristics of the cluster or outbreak and the specific needs of the people affected by it. Cluster detection and response activities range from routine efforts to identify and prioritize clusters, initial responses to small clusters, and expanded or escalated responses to larger or more rapidly expanding clusters and outbreaks. These public health responses can have long-lasting benefits to communities that extend far beyond the individuals affected by the initial cluster. For example, response efforts have led to expanded services such as HIV testing or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) in an area that was previously underserved. In other responses, new community collaborations dedicated to HIV prevention have been established that address HIV prevention, treatment, and stigma.

EHE-funded jurisdictions are developing plans to respond to HIV outbreaks, establishing dedicated workforces, and improving the use of real-time information to direct resources to the communities that need them most.  Real-time HIV cluster detection and response are key to stopping HIV transmission and get us closer to ending the HIV epidemic once and for all.

Additional Resources

Find more about HIV cluster detection and response.

See examples of HIV cluster response in action in the Community Spotlights.

Page last reviewed: June 13, 2022