Immediate initiation of antiretroviral treatment: knowledge, attitudes, and practices among clinic staff in New York City

Daniel Bertolino, Abigail Baim-Lance, Erica D’Aquila, Freda Coren, Bisrat Abraham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Immediate initiation of antiretroviral treatment (iART) is a proven intervention that significantly decreases time to viral suppression and increases patient retention. iART involves starting medication as early as possible, often after a reactive rapid HIV test or re-engagement in care, although it does not have a universal definition. We aimed to understand iART from an implementation science perspective in a wide range of New York City (NYC) clinics providing HIV primary care, including staff knowledge, attitudes, and practices, as well as clinic barriers and facilitators to iART. Methods: We used a mixed-methods, convergent study design, with a quantitative survey and in-depth interview (IDI), to understand individual-level knowledge, attitudes, and practices, as well as clinic-level barriers and facilitators to iART. We recruited at least one medical and non-medical staff member from a diverse purposive sample of 30 NYC clinics. In quantitative analyses, we used separate binomial logistic regression models to estimate odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). In qualitative analyses, we used codebooks created by thematic analyses structured using a Framework Model to develop descriptive analytic memos. Results: Recruited staff completed 46 surveys and 17 IDIs. We found high levels of awareness of the viral suppression and retention in care benefits of iART. Survey respondents more commonly reported medication starts within three to four days of a reactive rapid HIV test rather than same-day initiation. Among survey respondents, compared to medical staff, non-medical staff were more likely to agree that medication should only be initiated after receiving confirmatory HIV test results (OR: 0.2, 95% CI: 0.06–0.8). Additionally, survey respondents from clinics serving a majority people of color were less likely to report iART on the same day as a reactive rapid HIV test (OR: 0.2, 95% CI: 0.02–1.0, p-value < 0.5). IDI results elucidated barriers to implementation, including perceived patient readiness, which potentially leads to added disparities in iART access. Conclusion: iART has proven benefits and support for its implementation among HIV clinic staff. Our findings indicate that barriers to expanding iART access may be overcome if implementation resources are allocated strategically, which can further progress towards health equity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1039
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • ART
  • Antiretroviral treatment
  • HIV
  • KAP
  • Mixed methods
  • Rapid treatment


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