Elements of the HIV Care Continuum: Improving Engagement and Retention in Care
The HIV care continuum (or treatment cascade) classifies individuals with HIV infection who are diagnosed, linked to care, retained in care, on antiretroviral therapy, and virally suppressed, to assess the effectiveness of health care and treatment from a population-level health perspective. Initially, it was estimated that only approximately 50% of individuals diagnosed with HIV infection are retained in care, and a lower percentage is virally suppressed. In an HIV clinic, retention in care should be addressed from a system perspective but focus on persons on an individual basis, and success in retention of a high proportion of individuals in care is likely to depend on collaboration with surrounding communities, local health departments, and other agencies. Two initiatives to improve engagement and retention in care undertaken at the University of Alabama at Birmingham 1917 Clinic are discussed. This article summarizes a presentation by Michael J. Mugavero, MD, MHSc, at the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Clinical Care Conference held in New Orleans, Louisiana, in December 2015.