Vollman said that, while their prevention program has only one staff member, their strategy to find people who are undiagnosed primarily involves outreach to those communities most vulnerable to HIV, as well as training and supporting other providers in the region in order to increase the range of providers who offer HIV testing.
Finding people who are undiagnosed can be difficult, especially in rural communities where people may not want to be tested at sites where they could be recognized by other community members or that are known as centers of HIV care. With limited staff and resources, the Living Bridge focuses their testing outreach program on reaching people twice a month at a criminal justice diversionary program for people with low-level first-time drug charges and people in drug court for felony-level charges, as well as on providing monthly testing at Dalton State College and testing in their pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) clinic.
In addition, they use their epidemiologist to look at parts of the district where there is a cluster of diagnoses or people who are most at-risk in order to provide targeted education and outreach to community members, as well as to reach nurses and other providers in those areas and thereby increase testing and PrEP education and linkage.
According to Vollman, this strategy has proven effective. From 2013 to 2017, they saw a 62% increase in the number of people tested at the health department, a 181% increase in the number of people tested through targeted outreach efforts, and a 200% increase in new HIV diagnoses.