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AIDS Action Weekly Update Special Edition

Report From the HIV Prevention Leadership Summit
Atlanta, Georgia, June 16-19, 2004

June 25, 2004

HIV Prevention in Urban and Rural Settings

UCHAPS: Using Community-Government Partnerships in Prevention


The Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (UCHAPS) -- which is composed of community and government representatives from the six cities (Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco) that receive direct funding from the CDC for HIV prevention work -- participated in HPLS on several fronts, all to coincide with the official launch of its membership expansion initiative. The coalition's presence at the summit was most visible through two events: 1) a luncheon reception, where membership invitations were extended to the other cities that make up the top 25 HIV-impacted urban areas in the United States; and 2) its workshop, showcasing UCHAPS jurisdictions' successful linkages between HIV prevention and care in the context of the CDC's Advancing HIV Prevention initiative.

The work of the UCHAPS coalition is based on the community-government partnership which provides the foundation of community planning for HIV prevention programming. The coalition is currently composed of community and government representatives from each of the six member cities. Together, these cities account for approximately 30% of the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

The current UCHAPS cities, however, only tell part of the story of the urban portion of the epidemic in the U.S. The CDC has identified the 25 most heavily impacted jurisdictions that include the six UCHAPS cities. UCHAPS recognizes that in order to more fully represent and address the urban HIV agenda, they must expand their membership to include the 19 other jurisdictions. A full 59% of the nation's AIDS cases can be found in these urban areas.

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The coalition's luncheon reception, held on the first full day of the summit, provided an opportunity not only to invite other jurisdictions to join UCHAPS, but it also provided UCHAP's members with an occasion to explain the value and benefits of membership in the expanding coalition. Among the more than sixty attendees were representatives from at least ten of the invited nineteen cities, as well as key federal officials engaged in the response to the domestic HIV epidemic: Christopher Bates, director of the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources and Janet Cleveland, deputy director of the Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention at the CDC.

Following a formal presentation about UCHAPS, delivered by co-chairs Bill Stackhouse (government representative, New York) and Debra Fleming (community representative, Chicago), attendees asked UCHAPS members about the purpose of the urban coalition and its approach to prevention work. UCHAPS members unanimously cited three benefits of UCHAPS membership. Members benefit from 1) peer-to-peer technical assistance regarding the latest in HIV prevention best-practices, often precipitated by the implementation of federal HIV prevention policy; 2) opportunities to articulate the urban prevention agenda through the creation and dissemination of publications, such as Preventing AIDS in America: An Urban Agenda (available at www.uchaps.org); and 3) through membership in AIDS Action, engagement in lobbying and educating federal policymakers, as well as key Administration officials, and having the opportunity to shape a national HIV prevention agenda.

The heavy attendance of the event was seen by many UCHAPS members as recognition of the unique challenges urban centers face designing and implementing effective HIV prevention programs. People are eager to have conversations about these challenges. Lisa Reyes, community representative from San Francisco, explained, "A lot of the prevention planning group [PPG] work discussed at conferences takes place at the state level, but those of us working with city-based PPGs face specific issues that need to be addressed, and there are limited venues for that discussion to take place."

Attendee Antionettea Etienne, co-chair of the New York City PPG's people living with HIV committee, said that she was always curious about the UCHAPS meetings that some of her New York colleagues traveled to. After attending the discussion, she said that she "sees the necessity of this kind of work."

Janet Cleveland aptly closed the reception by saying, "UCHAPS is very special to me. I am proud of the work they are doing and continue to do, and I'm looking forward to even better and greater work and products from UCHAPS."

Although each of the six member cities is implementing AHP very differently, they all focused on the forward-moving nature of their efforts. Bill Stackhouse, governmental co-chair of UCHAPS, particularly relishes the progressive nature of the coalition: "Within UCHAPS, we are entirely concentrated on the work of HIV prevention. We can't afford to get sidetracked in this work -- we are always moving forward, toward implementing effective HIV prevention programs. And we are committed to doing this in the context of community-government partnerships."

For more information on UCHAPS, link to www.uchaps.org.




  
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This article was provided by AIDS Action Council. It is a part of the publication AIDS Action Weekly Update.
 

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