Toward the Policy of Active Case-Finding of HIV Among High-Risk Groups in Iran

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Background: Iran should revise some of its current strategies and strengthen others to meet the 95-95-95 targets, focusing on active case-finding (ACF) to combat this epidemic. Objectives: This policy report aimed to shed light on the process of implementing ACF of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) among high-risk groups on a nationwide scale. Methods: This policy report is based on the pilot implementation of the first and second phases of optimized HIV case-finding (OCF) program. The first phase was implemented at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Iran, from March 2018 to September 2019, and the second phase was implemented in eight other Iranian universities of medical sciences from November 2020 to May 2021. Results: OCF program is being implemented successfully as a pilot in eight universities with a combined population of approximately 21 million and a diverse socio-cultural context. During the seven months of OCF program, 536 new venues of female sex workers (FSWs) or injecting drug users (IDUs) were registered, 1282 new cases received the required services, 3256 services were registered, and 2834 barcodes were activated to follow cases actively. Conclusions: Evidently, OCF program requires a multi-strategy approach. The other critical issue is gaining the support and cooperation of stakeholders through a comprehensive advocacy strategy. Additionally, it is recommended to equip voluntary counseling and testing centers (VCTs) and other components of HIV surveillance systems and train their staff to ensure that their services are as efficient as possible.