Background: Information about the HIV/STD prevention services, programs, and policies at the nearly 3,000 local health departments (LHDs) in the U.S. is not well characterized by current research.
Objectives: To understand the nature and extent of HIV/STD prevention services and strategies as well as barriers, facilitators of success, and other practice realities in LHDs to inform CDC and LHD policy and practice.
Methods: The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) developed the HIV/STD Prevention Sentinel Network (SN) by recruiting approximately 85 U.S. LHDs of varying size, geographic distribution and HIV/STD incidence and prevalence to complete online queries bi-monthly about specific HIV/STD prevention topics and services in their jurisdiction and to provide information about the relevance and implementation of CDC policies at the local level.
Results: Five queries have been conducted since April 2008, with response rates ranging from 21-51%. Queries have examined barriers to local HIV/STD prevention, the implementation of program collaboration and service integration for delivering HIV, STD, TB and Viral Hepatitis services at LHDs, the use of “homegrown” HIV/STD interventions developed using local data, and a variety of other HIV/STD prevention topics of interest to CDC , NACCHO, and LHDs themselves.
Conclusions: The HIV/STD Prevention SN provides a unique mechanism for gaining a snapshot view of the realities of HIV/STD prevention at LHDs and to provide CDC with feedback about a population with whom they do not typically have direct contact. The SN also provides a means to connect LHDs to one another to share models for HIV/STD prevention that are effective in their communities.
Implications for Programs, Policy, and/or Research: While the Sentinel Network is not a representative sample of all LHDs in the United States, query results provide information about the HIV/STD prevention capacities and realities and assist in identifying practices to meet the HIV/STD prevention needs of LHDs and they communities they serve.