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  1. Gambone, Gina F. MPH
  2. Feldman, Matthew B. PhD, MSW
  3. Thomas-Ferraioli, Anna Y. MPH
  4. Shubert, Virginia JD
  5. Ghose, Toorjo PhD, MSW


Context: Interventions that support durable viral load suppression (VLS) among people living with HIV (PLWH) who face barriers to treatment adherence are needed to maintain optimal individual health, prevent new HIV infections, and advance health equity. Efficacy trials indicate that financial incentives (FIs) are a promising strategy for promoting VLS, although less is known about their implementation in "real-world" settings. This article describes considerations for the development and implementation of FI interventions identified in existing literature, and how they informed the scale-up of a multilevel treatment adherence support program designed to increase VLS among PLWH in New York City.


Program: The UndetectablesSM VLS Program comprises a social marketing campaign and a "tool kit" of evidence-based HIV treatment adherence strategies, including quarterly FIs ($100) that patients receive for achieving or maintaining an undetectable viral load (<200 copies/mL; also referred to as VLS). The intervention was developed and pilot tested by Housing Works Community Healthcare and the University of Pennsylvania from 2014 to 2016. Initial findings from the pilot evaluation showed a statistically significant positive effect on VLS.


Implementation: The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene contracted with 7 agencies across New York City to scale up The Undetectables Program over a 3-year period (2016-2019) by integrating the program into existing services for PLWH.


Evaluation Plans: Quality indicators (eg, percentage of clients who received an FI each quarter; percentage of clients who were virally suppressed at 90 days postenrollment) will be used to measure program performance and impact over time.


Discussion: Recommendations for implementing FIs for PLWH include packaging FIs with client-centered, evidence-based adherence strategies, incorporating FIs into existing service delivery systems, and obtaining organization-wide buy-in to facilitate their implementation. Implementation science research is needed to identify strategies to effectively implement and sustain evidence-based FI interventions.