Through funding from the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics initiative (RADx), the University of Alabama at Birmingham will launch a community-based testing model in Jefferson County as part of an effort to improve access, uptake and follow-up to COVID-19 testing in underserved populations.
A part of the RADx program supports research to better understand COVID-19 testing patterns among underserved and vulnerable populations; strengthens the data on disparities in infection rates, disease progression and outcomes; and develops strategies to reduce the disparities in COVID-19 testing.
The UAB effort builds on a successful pilot testing program, the UAB Grand Challenge project that provided testing to African American and Hispanic residents in Jefferson County. The results of this initial testing program showed that residents of vulnerable communities were open to this three-component model:
- Robust pre-testing community engagement to improve the reach and acceptability of COVID-19 testing.
- Targeted mobile testing located in underserved neighborhoods to increase access to and uptake of COVID-19 testing.
- Culturally appropriate post-testing navigation/assistance and follow-up services to ensure better impact and health outcomes.
The current project will test the effectiveness of this neighborhood mobile testing model in comparison with the traditional, fixed, health systems-based testing to provide evidence to inform future testing and vaccination efforts.
"Study findings will provide evidence that can help increase testing and follow-up among vulnerable populations and address the disparities in COVID-19 outcomes," said Mona Fouad, MD, director of the MHRC and principal investigator for the UAB RADx-UP-funded study. "Additionally, the results may help in planning for fair and efficient vaccine distribution going forward."