Engaging People Living With HIV in the Implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy
By Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H. and Lauren Broussard, L.G.S.W., M.P.H.
September 14, 2011
None of the goals of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) can be realized without the ongoing support and contributions of the 1.2 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS. As part of our ongoing implementation of the NHAS, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) convened a consultation in late July with people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH) to discuss their perspectives on the Strategy and to identify opportunities for their meaningful involvement in an array of activities in pursuit of the Strategy's goals. People living with HIV/AIDS have a long history of advocacy on behalf of services, policies and research for their community. Their leadership has helped bring about many of the advances made over the past 30 years in HIV prevention programs and care and treatment services.
However, persistent stigma and discrimination surrounding people living with HIV/AIDS undermines efforts to encourage all people to learn their HIV status, and makes it harder for people to disclose their HIV status to their medical providers, their sex partners, clergy and others -- including family members -- from whom they may need to seek understanding and support. To confront this sad reality, the Strategy calls on all of us to reduce stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with HIV, specifically identifying the following important actions we can all take towards this end:
During the consultation held July 25-26, the more than 30 persons living with HIV from across the nation shared their thoughts about these actions and other matters related to the National HIV/AIDS Strategy with each other and with representatives of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), HHS Office of HIV/AIDS Policy (OHAP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Office on Women's Health (OWH), Office of Minority Health (OMH), Indian Health Service (IHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Among the many issues and opportunities identified during this discussion were:
The participants brought forward many valuable perspectives and suggestions from diverse communities across the nation, illustrating the many realities of persons living with HIV/AIDS in our country that must be taken into consideration as we all work collectively to examine and improve our response to HIV/AIDS.
Ronald Valdiserri, M.D., M.P.H. is deputy assistant secretary for health, infectious diseases and director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Lauren Broussard, L.G.S.W., M.P.H., is a public health analyst in the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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