Demonstrating their interest to learn more about and eagerness to support the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, more than 100 stakeholders joined a symposium last month at Florida International University in Miami. Participants included representatives of local health departments, several Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grantees as well as community-based and faith-based organizations from south Florida. Colleagues from the Florida Department of Health, Miami-Dade County Department of Health also participated.
Dr. Ronald Valdiserri, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health, Infectious Diseases, HHS, provided an overview of and update on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, highlighting the goals of the Strategy: reducing new HIV infections; increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV; reducing HIV-related disparities and health inequities; and achieving a more coordinated national response to the HIV epidemic. Vanessa Johnson of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA ) spoke about the importance of both the Strategy and involving people living with HIV/AIDS in planning and implementing activities that will help communities, states and the nation achieve its goals. Our colleagues from the Miami-Dade County Department of Health also discussed their Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Plan (ECHPP), developed earlier this year with support from CDC to maximize the impact of HIV prevention activities in the jurisdiction. Kira Villamizar and Robert Sandrock discussed how the department developed the plan and what initiatives they are planning to launch for specific populations as they work to implement the plan in the coming months.
The diverse group of participants then engaged in roundtable discussions about the implications of and opportunities in all of the information shared by the presenters. Through these discussions they had an opportunity to apply the Strategy’s priorities to their own organizations and align their activities with its goals. Some of the opportunities they identified were:
- Promoting HIV testing, awareness, and prevention education in non-traditional settings;
- Upon preliminary positive HIV test results, ensuring linkage to care and on-going follow-up; and
- Offering Continuing Medical Education (CME) to encourage infectious disease physicians from diverse racial, ethnic, and linguistic backgrounds to participate in continuous HIV/AIDS education and provide improved HIV services.
In these discussions, participants also identified potential barriers to implementing particular changes. Fortunately, there is wisdom in groups and by sharing expertise and insights from different perspectives they also were able to identify tactics to overcome those possible obstacles.
The participants, presenters and organizers all came away with a wealth of information about the Strategy and local implementation opportunities as well as a strengthened shared commitment to contribute to the national effort to realize the Strategy’s important goals.
Michelle Davis, Regional Health Administrator, Region II; Angelica Ramirez, Regional Resource Coordinator, Region II; and Jacqueline Taylor, Public Health Analyst, Region IV collaborated in convening this meeting and coauthored this post.