Abstract Title

Innovations in STI Prevention: Mail-Order Condoms and At-Home HIV Testing Opportunities in Rural Georgia

Abstract

Background: The evolving public health landscape has required the use of innovative strategies to improve availability and accessibility of condoms and safe sex supplies to high-risk populations and the wider public in support of disease intervention. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated demand for altered forms of healthcare delivery due to local social distancing protocols and community mitigation measures. During this time, a decrease of in-person HIV testing and distribution of condoms within local health departments required our HIV Prevention program to reassess the provision of these services to fulfill a critical public health function.

Methods: During the reporting period, participants completed a required online survey to order condoms or at-home HIV test kits. Each survey was promoted on the district website, district social media platforms, and posters in district clinical sites. Participant eligibility for both programs requires residence in 1 of 16 eligible counties. Responses to online at-home HIV surveys, package distribution, and return of follow-up surveys are monitored via the State Electronic Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (SendSS). Responses to the mail-order condom program are managed through a secure Microsoft survey.

Results: A total of 296 at-home HIV tests were distributed via mail order, in-person pick up, and through outreach methods between January 2021 and November 2022. Overall, more than half (60%) of participants ordered test kits by mail. A total of 383 condom packages were mailed to participants between June 2021 and December 2022. For both programs, female participants requested more at-home HIV test kits and mail-order condoms than any other group.

Conclusions: Findings for both programs provide valuable benchmarks to aid in continued program development. Despite obstacles stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, both programs facilitated the provision of accessible safe sex options and HIV prevention measures to high-risk populations and the wider public residing within the rural SEHD.

Keywords

disease intervention, rural Georgia, HIV Prevention, mail-order condoms, at-home HIV testing

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Innovations in STI Prevention: Mail-Order Condoms and At-Home HIV Testing Opportunities in Rural Georgia

Background: The evolving public health landscape has required the use of innovative strategies to improve availability and accessibility of condoms and safe sex supplies to high-risk populations and the wider public in support of disease intervention. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated demand for altered forms of healthcare delivery due to local social distancing protocols and community mitigation measures. During this time, a decrease of in-person HIV testing and distribution of condoms within local health departments required our HIV Prevention program to reassess the provision of these services to fulfill a critical public health function.

Methods: During the reporting period, participants completed a required online survey to order condoms or at-home HIV test kits. Each survey was promoted on the district website, district social media platforms, and posters in district clinical sites. Participant eligibility for both programs requires residence in 1 of 16 eligible counties. Responses to online at-home HIV surveys, package distribution, and return of follow-up surveys are monitored via the State Electronic Notifiable Disease Surveillance System (SendSS). Responses to the mail-order condom program are managed through a secure Microsoft survey.

Results: A total of 296 at-home HIV tests were distributed via mail order, in-person pick up, and through outreach methods between January 2021 and November 2022. Overall, more than half (60%) of participants ordered test kits by mail. A total of 383 condom packages were mailed to participants between June 2021 and December 2022. For both programs, female participants requested more at-home HIV test kits and mail-order condoms than any other group.

Conclusions: Findings for both programs provide valuable benchmarks to aid in continued program development. Despite obstacles stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, both programs facilitated the provision of accessible safe sex options and HIV prevention measures to high-risk populations and the wider public residing within the rural SEHD.