ACRIA is pleased to welcome Dolores Witherspoon-Cozier to our Board of Directors. Ms. Witherspoon-Cozier brings to our agency a unique perspective on and experience with HIV education needs for people infected and affected by this disease, and particularly youth at risk of HIV infection.
For the past 17 years, Ms. Witherspoon-Cozier has served as a Comprehensive Health Coordinator for HIV/AIDS issues at the New York City Board of Education. She has developed and led numerous staff trainings and curriculum development projects surrounding HIV infection and healthcare issues and is continually focused on updating HIV health education practices within the city to meet current needs. We expect that Ms. Witherspoon-Cozier's active involvement in these citywide policy efforts will also substantially help ACRIA to keep our own treatment education programs relevant as the HIV epidemic changes in the years ahead.
ACRIA was able to bring our national HIV treatment education technical assistance (TA) program to Madison, Wisconsin for the first time in March. Twenty-six individuals participated in an intensive four-day training to develop and expand the skills and knowledge needed to counsel and educate people living with HIV about a wide range of HIV treatment issues. Madison is the sixth site to participate in the TA program since its inception in 1999.
Our trip to Wisconsin was particularly unique. The previous TA sites of Baltimore, Detroit, San Antonio and San Diego largely drew participants from urban settings. The Wisconsin training, however, was attended by non-medical care providers and community members from both rural and urban areas. This was ACRIA's first experience training participants from agencies in nearly every region of a state. Our Wisconsin sessions offered an opportunity for all in attendance to learn about different needs for HIV treatment information by a wider variety of audiences than in our previous TA sites.
ACRIA was also able to return to Baltimore in March to provide a full day follow-up TA training for individuals who had participated in the initial multi-day training last October. Follow-up services are an integral feature of ACRIA's TA initiative since they help participants to reinforce some of the more complex HIV treatment subject matter and also to build upon their skills as treatment educators within a peer group setting. The follow-up training sessions are just one example of how ACRIA's TA program offers sustained support for establishing treatment education capacity within communities.
Several ACRIA researchers recently staffed an agency-sponsored booth at the Community Planning Leadership Summit for HIV Prevention (CPLS) held in Manhattan in mid-March. We also presented an abstract on a new ACRIA research protocol at this forum.
The purpose of ACRIA's participation in this largest ever gathering of social service personnel and health policy experts involved in HIV prevention was to introduce our increased research efforts aimed at strengthening prevention programs.
This conference gave ACRIA a special forum at which to recruit participants for our new collaborative "cyber study" with Indiana University that is assessing AIDS service organization (ASO) staff attitudes and ideas across the United States about improving prevention programs. CPLS provided an opportunity for ACRIA staff to network with over 300 ASO representatives working in every state of the country.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention organizers of the CPLS conference stated that their goal was to at least halve new HIV infections in the United States from the current rate of 40,000 persons annually within five years. Hopefully, ACRIA's new research will assist in achieving this goal.
ACRIA's Community Advisory Board (CAB) fosters partnership between the education staff and the local community impacted by HIV/AIDS. Involving community members in the development of our education programs ensures that community values and cultural differences are respected in ACRIA's educational work.
Community Advisory Board members meet every other month, review program materials and help us identify education needs.
For more information about the CAB or if you are interested in volunteering at ACRIA, please call Mark Milano at (212) 924-3934, ext. 123.
This article was provided by AIDS Community Research Initiative of America. It is a part of the publication ACRIA Update. Visit ACRIA's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.