Re-thinking Linkage to Care in the Era of Universal Test and Treat: Insights from Implementation and Behavioral Science for Achieving the Second 90
To successfully link to care, persons living with HIV must negotiate a complex series of processes from HIV diagnosis through initial engagement with HIV care systems and providers. Despite the complexity involved, linkage to care is often oversimplified and portrayed as a single referral step. In this article, we offer a new conceptual framework for linkage to care, tailored to the current universal test and treat era that presents linkage to care as its own nuanced pathway within the larger HIV care cascade. Conceptualizing linkage to care in this way may help better identify and specify processes posing a barrier to linkage, and allow for the development of targeted implementation and behavioral science-based approaches to address them. Such approaches are likely to be most relevant to programmatic and clinical settings with limited resources and high HIV burden.