Collecting and analyzing data are critical to the success of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) – we need to know what’s most effective in improving the health and wellness of the 1.2 million people in the United States living with HIV. One challenge is the lack of consensus on what core indicators to use to monitor HIV care. To address this gap, the Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) commissioned the Institute of Medicine (IOM ) to identify key indicators to monitor HIV outcomes. The report recommends considering 14 core HIV indicators, including 9 indicators for clinical HIV care and 5 for mental health, substance use, and supportive services. These measures can be used at the local, state, and federal level, and provide a framework for agencies and clinics to measure the effectiveness of their programs. In addition, the report makes recommendations for improving the monitoring of HIV care across data systems, identifies and proposes solutions with regard to reducing reporting burden and streamlining data collection, and discusses ways health information technology can be used to facilitate the exchange of data to improve outcomes. The full report can be accessed here .
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), under the auspices of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) and the Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP) has taken several important steps to advance policies that are responsive to the IOM report and align with the 2011 HHS Operational Plan. Secretary Sebelius has issued a memorandum requesting that HHS agencies collaborate to finalize a set of common core HIV/AIDS indicators consistent with the IOM report, streamline data collection, and reduce HIV reporting burden by at least 20-25%. In addition, the cross-federal team charged with overseeing the federal implementation of the NHAS has begun to outline a cross-departmental project to identify core indicators, align and reduce reporting requirements, and facilitate the sharing of data across federal agencies.
These collective efforts will increase our ability to measure and track progress made by states, cities, and local communities in combating the HIV epidemic as implementation of the NHAS continues. The reduction in reporting requirements and streamlining data collection will give federal agencies, state and local governments, and healthcare providers more time to focus on their work supporting and caring for persons living with HIV.