AIDS United joins organizations around the country to honor National Women’s Health Week. Observed from May 10-16, 2020, this week is an opportunity for us to center the unique health needs of women.
Shining a light on the needs of women of color — Black transgender women specifically — is a crucial part of ending the HIV epidemic in the United States. Women of color account for one in five new HIV diagnoses, and it is estimated that 44% of Black trans women are living with HIV.
AIDS United has worked with the Dissemination of Evidence-Informed Interventions initiative — a program funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Special Projects of National Significance Program — to address these disparities head-on.
The initiative supports the implementation of interventions shown to increase linkage to and retention in HIV primary care. AIDS United has participated in supporting two interventions: Peer Linkage and Re-engagement; and Enhanced Patient Navigation.
Peer Linkage and Re-engagement utilizes peers — people living with HIV who have a shared experience and community membership — to address unmet needs such as housing, employment, food security and transportation.
Enhanced Patient Navigation utilizes patient navigators — nonmedical staff in clinical settings — to lead clients through a standardized six-session education curriculum. The navigators help clients understand HIV, adhere to HIV care and treatment, accompany and schedule medical appointments, and assist in completing medical and social service referrals.
These interventions show navigators and peers are critical members of the multidisciplinary health care team.
Building strong, trusting relationships, while an ongoing process, can be a missing link in supporting engagement and retention in care, which improves health outcomes. Peers and patient navigators who mirror the community served can often bridge this gap.
Allison Byrd, a peer at AIDS Care Group in Chester, Pennsylvania, reflects:
“When I was diagnosed with HIV, I had nobody to help me and keep me in care. This program is the most beautiful thing, especially for women of color, because so many of us don’t put ourselves first. I enjoy every minute of the work I do and know that it makes a difference.”
In addition to the AIDS Care Group in Chester, Pennsylvania, both the Howard Brown Health in Chicago, Illinois, and Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, implemented the Peer Linkage and Re-engagement intervention through the Dissemination of Evidence-Informed Interventions initiative.
Grady Health System in Atlanta, Georgia, Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California, and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey, were funded to implement the Enhanced Patient Navigation Intervention.
For more information on these interventions, visit https://nextlevel.targethiv.org/.
These resources were supported by grant #U90HA29237, “Dissemination of Evidence-Informed Interventions,” through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration, Health Resources and Services Administration, HIV/AIDS Bureau. The contents are solely the responsibility of AIDS United and do not necessarily represent the views of the funding agencies or the U.S. Government.