Site assessment survey to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HIV clinic site services and strategies for mitigation in Washington, DC

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



BMC health services research








COVID-19; HIV; Health services; Pandemic; Syndemic; Telehealth


INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has created substantial interruptions in healthcare presenting challenges for people with chronic illnesses to access care and treatment services. We aimed to assess the impact of the pandemic on HIV care delivery by characterizing the pandemic-related impact on HIV clinic-level services and the mitigation strategies that were developed to address them. METHODS: The data comes from a site assessment survey conducted in the DC Cohort, an observational clinical cohort of PWH receiving care at 14 HIV outpatient clinics in Washington, D.C. Frequency counts and prevalence estimates of clinic-level survey responses about the impact of care delivery, COVID-19 testing, and vaccinations and mitigation strategies are presented. RESULTS: Clinics reported an increase in temporary clinic closures (n = 2), reduction in clinic hours (n = 5), telehealth utilization (n = 10), adoption of multi-month dispensation of antiretroviral (ARV) medication (n = 11) and alternative drug delivery via postal/courier service, home/community delivery or pick-up (n = 11). Clinics utilized strategies for PWH who were lost to follow-up during the pandemic including offering care to persons with any income level and insurance status (n = 9), utilizing e-prescribing for auto refills even if the patient missed visits (n = 8), and utilization of the regional health information exchange to check for hospitalizations of PWH lost to follow-up (n = 8). Most social services offered before the pandemic remained available during the pandemic; however, some support services were modified. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate the extent of pandemic-era disruptions and the use of clinic-level mitigation strategies among urban HIV clinics. These results may help prepare for future pandemic or public health emergencies that disrupt healthcare delivery and access.