Special Studies and Diagnostics Team (SSDT)

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Scaling-up HIV Testing among African American & Hispanic Men who have Sex with Men (MSM): The MSM Testing Initiative (MTI)

The goals of MTI are to implement an HIV testing program among MSM and develop best practices to identify HIV-infected MSM who were previously unaware of their infection and link them to HIV medical care. The primary objectives are to: 1) identify at least 3,000 HIV-infected MSM who were previously unaware of their infection, and 2) link at least 2,550 (85%) of these HIV-infected MSM into HIV medical care. Because of the disproportionate impact of HIV on minority MSM, over 50% of those newly identified HIV-positive men shall be Hispanic/Latino or African American. In order to identify HIV infections among at least 3,000 MSM who are unaware of their infection, it is estimated that at least 60,000 MSM will need to be tested. Project activities will take place between September 2011 and August 2015.

Yield and Cost Effectiveness of CDC’s New Laboratory Algorithm

SSDT leads a project designed to evaluate the performance and cost-effectiveness of the fourth generation immunoassays (Abbott ARCHITECT and the GS HIV Combo Ag/Ab EIA) and supplemental testing with Multispot and nucleic acid tests (NAT) compared with the current HIV diagnostic algorithm which consists of a repeatedly reactive immunoassay (IA) followed by a supplemental test, such as the Western blot (WB). The project is being conducted in multiple health departments and hospital laboratories.

HIV Diagnostics Conference

The HIV Diagnostics Conference, co-sponsored by CDC (through SSDT staff), provides an opportunity for clinicians, clinical and public health laboratorians, HIV/AIDS program managers and directors, and industry representatives to review developments in HIV diagnostics, share data and research findings, and establish collaborations. Since its inception in 2005, the HIV Diagnostics Conference has served as an opportunity for individuals interested in issues related to HIV diagnostic testing to gather and discuss new developments and related prevention and surveillance measures.

Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)

The team is the point of contact for APHL in the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention (DHAP). Several activities are being conducted through a cooperative agreement with APHL: a demonstration project to assess the feasibility of providing NAT via regional reference laboratories to health departments that need it as part of the CDC laboratory algorithm, a survey of public health laboratory capacity and testing technology use, provision of education regarding testing technology and algorithms through webinars and manuscripts directed to public health laboratories, and a report on oral fluid limitations for HIV testing.

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Technical Assistance related to HIV Testing Technology

SSDT provides technical assistance to external partners, including health departments and laboratories, related to diagnostic testing technology and algorithms for point-of-care and laboratory testing. We also ensure that the content of CDC’s HIV testing webpage contains the latest information on HIV tests and test strategies.

Guidelines on HIV testing among Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings:

The SSDT monitors the need for updates to CDC’s guidelines on HIV testing. Topics under review include the recommendations for repeat testing frequency of high-risk persons, testing of pregnant women, and appropriate intervals for screening all patients in health-care settings.

General Population Studies Workgroup

The SSDT analyzes data from and manages contracts with several national, population-based surveys including the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), the General Social Survey (GSS), the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and others. SSDT collaborates with researchers across DHAP to conduct analyses on risk behaviors, HIV testing, and other key indicators in the general U.S. population and among higher risk populations to monitor the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

Evaluation of Rapid HIV Self-Testing among MSM in High Prevalence Cities (eSTAMP)

This research project is managed in collaboration with the Prevention Research Branch. The goal of eSTAMP is to assess the use and impact of rapid HIV self-testing kits among Internet using men who have sex with men (MSM) located in nine high HIV prevalence cities in the United States. The primary research objectives are to assess 1) the effect of the provision of free HIV self-testing kits on frequency of HIV testing, 2) changes in sexual behaviors among study participants, 3) distribution and use of rapid HIV self-test kits to their social and sexual network affiliates, and 4) linkage to supplemental HIV diagnostic testing and care services. This research study is a three-arm randomized controlled trial (two HIV-negative arms, intervention and comparison, and one HIV-positive arm). A minimum of 3,200 HIV-negative MSM and 300 HIV-positive MSM will be recruited online.