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Factors Associated With Increased Syphilis Screening Among People Living With Human Immunodeficiency Virus

Hixson, Lindsay K. PhD*; Drach, Linda MPH*; Maher, Julie E. PhD*; Knapp, Alicia T. BS; Ferrer, Joshua S. MA; Menza, Timothy W. MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000001015
Original Studies
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Background Antiretroviral therapy effectively reduces the risk of human immunodeficiency virus transmission, but in the context of undetectable equals untransmittable and decreased condom use, rates of syphilis are increasing. In Oregon, syphilis has risen over 20-fold in the past decade, from less than 30 to approximately 600 cases annually during 2016 and 2017. Although many cases are among people living with human immunodeficiency virus infection (PLWH), screening for syphilis among PLWH is often lacking. The objective of this study was to estimate the prevalence of past-year syphilis testing among PLWH in Oregon to identify facility-level and individual-level factors associated with testing.

Methods We examined 2015 to 2016 Medical Monitoring Project interview and medical records data in Oregon and conducted supplemental interviews with participants' medical providers. We used generalized mixed effects models to identify factors associated with syphilis screening.

Results Sixty-nine percent of Medical Monitoring Project participants had past-year syphilis screening. Patients receiving care from facilities with written sexually transmitted infection screening policies were far more likely to be screened than those receiving care from facilities without written policies (94% vs. 43%, P < 0.001). Participants who identified as male were more likely to have been tested, even after adjusting for facility-level characteristics. Clustering within facility accounted for about 15% of the unexplained variability in the adjusted mixed effects models.

Conclusions Written sexually transmitted infection screening policies at medical facilities appear to be an important tool for ensuring syphilis screening occurs as recommended to prevent the continued rise in syphilis.

People living with human immunodeficiency virus receiving care in facilities with written sexually transmitted infection screening policies were more likely to be screened for syphilis than those receiving care from facilities without written policies.

From the *Program Design and Evaluation Services, Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah County Health Department;

HIV and STD Prevention, and

HIV Data and Analysis Program, Oregon Health Authority, Portland, OR

Conflicts of Interest: none declared.

Sources of Funding: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention MMP grant 5NU62PS004959-04-00.

Correspondence: Lindsay K. Hixson, PhD, Program Design and Evaluation Services, Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah County Health Department, Suite 260, 800 NE Oregon St, Portland, OR 97232. E-mail: Lindsay.k.hixson@state.or.us.

Received for publication March 1, 2019, and accepted April 23, 2019.

Online date: May 30, 2019

© Copyright 2019 American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association