Patients motivated to control their HIV with financial incentives

Using financial incentives in a targeted manner may encourage HIV patients to seek medical care and take their antiretroviral therapy medication, also known as ART, regularly, according to a study conducted by the HIV Prevention Trials Network.

Researchers examined 37 HIV testing sites and 39 care sites across the Bronx in New York City and Washington, D.C., two areas with high HIV rates and existing efforts to improve testing and linkage to care. Roughly half the sites were randomly assigned to offer financial incentives while the other half operated normally.

The sites that were assigned to give out financial incentives offered patients $70-gift cards every three months they maintained viral suppression, a measure that indicated their ART medication adherence.

They also offered $25-gift cards to patients who got HIV tests and $100-gift cards when they returned to receive their test results and individualized healthcare plans.

Highlighted below are five findings from the study.

  • Over the course of the study, nearly 40,000 gift cards were given to more than 9,000 patients at clinics that offered financial incentives
  • After 18 months, viral suppression was five percent higher at clinics offering financial incentives compared to those that didn't.
  • Viral suppression was 11 percent higher at sites with a smaller number of patients and 13 percent higher at sites where fewer patients had their HIV under control at the beginning of the study.
  • There was no significant difference in the percentage of people who were successfully linked to medical care after being diagnosed with HIV, regardless of financial incentives.
  • Whether financial incentives were offered, linkage to care and viral suppression improved at almost all of the sites over the course of the study.


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