The Impacts of HIV-Related Service Interruptions During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Protocol of a Mixed Methodology Longitudinal Study

Shan Qiao, Jiajia Zhang, Zhenlong Li, Bankole Olatosi, Sharon Weissman, Xiaoming Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The global COVID-19 pandemic has imposed unprecedented pressure on health systems and has interrupted public health efforts for other major health conditions, including HIV. It is critical to comprehensively understand how the pandemic has affected the delivery and utilization of HIV-related services and what are the effective strategies that may mitigate the negative impacts of COVID-19 and resultant interruptions. The current study thus aims to comprehensively investigate HIV service interruptions during the pandemic following a socioecological model, to assess their impacts on various outcomes of the HIV prevention and treatment cascade and to identify resilience resources for buffering impacts of interruptions on HIV treatment cascade outcomes. We will assess HIV service interruptions in South Carolina (SC) since 2020 using operational report data from Ryan White HIV clinics and HIV service utilization data (including telehealth use) based on statewide electronic health records (EHR) and cellphone-based place visitation data. We will further explore how HIV service interruptions affect HIV prevention and treatment cascade outcomes at appropriate geospatial units based on the integration of multi-type, multi-source datasets (e.g., EHR, geospatial data). Finally, we will identify institutional-, community-, and structural-level factors (e.g., resilience resources) that may mitigate the adverse impacts of HIV service interruptions based on the triangulation of quantitative (i.e., EHR data, geospatial data, online survey data) and qualitative (i.e., in-depth interviews with clinic leaders, healthcare providers, people living with HIV, and HIV clinic operational reports) data regarding health system infrastructure, social capital, and organizational preparedness. Our proposed research can lead to a better understanding of complicated HIV service interruptions in SC and resilience factors that can mitigate the negative effects of such interruptions on various HIV treatment cascade outcomes. The multilevel resilience resources identified through data triangulation will assist SC health departments and communities in developing strategic plans in response to this evolving pandemic and other future public health emergencies (e.g., monkeypox, disasters caused by climate change). The research findings can also inform public health policymaking and the practices of other Deep South states with similar sociocultural contexts in developing resilient healthcare systems and communities and advancing epidemic preparedness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAIDS and Behavior
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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