PROGRAM DIRECTOR REPORTS OF COVID-19 LOCKDOWN-DRIVEN SERVICE CHANGES IN COMMUNITY-BASED STI CLINICS AND SYRINGE SERVICES PROGRAMS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN U.S.

Mary A. Hatch, Tanja C. Laschober, Melissa M. Ertl, Margaret M. Paschen-Wolff, Gaia Norman, Lynette Wright, Susan Tross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic strained the U.S. health care system, posing logistical challenges for community-based programs. This study surveyed 11 program directors in sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinics and syringe services programs (SSPs) that served people who use substances and are at risk for HIV in five southeastern U.S. states. Brief survey questions asked about programs’ use of in-person and telehealth services. Results indicated widespread reduction of in-person services and concomitant adoption of telehealth services. In STI clinics, telehealth replaced in-person visits for all but urgent treatment of active symptoms. In SSPs, in-person contact continued or increased from pre-pandemic volumes. In both programs, the most salient telehealth use barrier was limited device or internet access and limited technological ease. Services were sustained through innovative adaptations. This snapshot of response to the early COVID-19 lockdown phase offers actionable guidance about service preparedness for future public health catas-trophes in community-based programs serving vulnerable populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-140
Number of pages12
JournalAIDS Education and Prevention
Volume36
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Guilford Press.

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • STI clinics
  • syringe services programs
  • telehealth

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