Understanding effective post-test linkage strategies for HIV prevention and care: A scoping review



Following HIV testing services (HTS), the World Health Organization recommends prompt linkage to prevention and treatment. Scale‐up of effective linkage strategies is essential to achieving the global 95‐95‐95 goals for maintaining low HIV incidence by 2030 and reducing HIV‐related morbidity and mortality. Whereas linkage to care including same‐day antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation for all people with HIV is now routinely implemented in testing programmes, linkage to HIV prevention interventions including behavioural or biomedical strategies, for HIV‐negative individuals remains sub‐optimal. This review aims to evaluate effective post‐HTS linkage strategies for HIV overall, and highlight gaps specifically in linkage to prevention.


Using the five‐step Arksey and O’Malley framework, we conducted a scoping review searching existing published and grey literature. We searched PubMed, Cochrane Library, CINAHL, Web of Science and EMBASE databases for English‐language studies published between 1 January 2010 and 30 November 2023. Linkage interventions included as streamlined interventions—involving same‐day HIV testing, ART initiation and point‐of‐care CD4 cell count/viral load, case management—involving linkage coordinators developing personalized HIV care and risk reduction plans, incentives—financial and non‐financial, partner services—including contact tracing, virtual—like social media, quality improvement—like use of score cards, and peer‐based interventions. Outcomes of interest were linkage to any form of HIV prevention and/or care including ART initiation.


Of 2358 articles screened, 66 research studies met the inclusion criteria. Only nine linkage to prevention studies were identified (n = 9/66, 14%)—involving pre‐exposure prophylaxis, voluntary medical male circumcision, sexually transmitted infection and cervical cancer screening. Linkage to care studies (n = 57/66, 86%) focused on streamlined interventions in the general population and on case management among key populations.


Despite a wide range of HIV prevention interventions available, there was a dearth of literature on HIV prevention programmes and on the use of messaging on treatment as prevention strategy. Linkage to care studies were comparatively numerous except those evaluating virtual interventions, incentives and quality improvement.


The findings give insights into linkage strategies but more understanding of how to provide these effectively for maximum prevention impact is needed.


Wamuti B, Jamil MS, Siegfried N, Ford N, Baggaley R, Johnson CC, Cherutich P




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
    • General HIV- population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Prevention
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Linkage/engagement in care
    • Treatment
  • Prevention
    • Biomedical interventions
  • Testing
    • Testing


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