Online Program

Linkage to Care for High-Risk Populations

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ashley King, MPH, Prevention/Primary Medical Care, NO/AIDS Task Force/CrescentCare, New Orleans, LA
Joseph Olsen, MPH, NO/AIDS Task Force Division, Department of Prevention, CrescentCare, New Orleans, LA

On July 13th 2010 the National HIV/AIDS Strategy set forth a goal of increasing national linkage to care rates from 65% to 85%. Our organization annually tests 5500+ people with an average positivity rate of 2%. After hiring a dedicated Patient Navigator (PN) our linkage-to-care rate rose from 53% to 89% within 7 months. This high linkage-to-care rate has been continuously maintained for an overall average linkage-to-care rate of 90%.  This presentation will look at inputs and strategies used to create and sustain a successful linkage-to-care model. We will also discuss “best practices” the agency has used to engage/retain high-risk populations in medical care. 


Dually funded by the Primary Care and Prevention Departments, the PN provides a seamless transition from counseling/testing to primary medical care for all clients. Though the primary responsibility of the PN is to engage clients in care, the PN also establishes and maintains an evolving relationship with the clients while being a continual strong support system.

Lessons Learned:

Having a PN that is familiar with multiple departments and can ensure a smooth transition from one department to another is essential for successful linkage-to-care. Also, maintaining an ongoing relationship with clients after they’ve been engaged in care contributes to retention in care.


The PN must be versatile, tech savvy, familiar with colloquialism, code switch, and most importantly, be persistent and sometimes relentless in their efforts. Using a rapid-rapid model of testing and having an on-call PN have proven to be components of our success.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe “best practices” used for a successful linkage-to-care model Identify barriers in linking high-risk populations to care Discuss successes and challenges of linking MSM populations

Keyword(s): HIV/AIDS, HIV Interventions

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a Master in Public Health degree from Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine. I've also been working in the HIV/AIDS arena for 3 years, and am currently the Patient Navigator for NO/AIDS Task Force.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

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