An article in the July/August 2021 issue of Public Health Reports (PHR) examines the role of COVID-19 in exacerbating the social isolation and trauma already experienced by individuals aging with HIV and in creating barriers to health care access. In the article, authors Brandon Brown, PhD, MPH; Jeff Taylor; and Celia B. Fisher, PhD, suggest that virtual villages may be one possible solution to reaching older adults with HIV and helping them avoid isolation, stay connected, and access the support systems they need.
Virtual villages, the authors explain, are those that primarily connect people using the internet. They can be used to link individuals with each other and with their medical and social services providers. They can also provide a continuous support system to counteract depression and isolation, provide information on how people can continue to receive HIV medications and food delivery, and identify when an individual is experiencing a health or mental health crisis. While many older adults lack technology skills, the authors note, almost 70% have internet access and there are emerging examples of initiatives dedicated to bridging the technology gap. With involvement from people aging with HIV and an array of community stakeholders, they maintain, these villages can serve as a model for countering social isolation in future pandemics and other public health emergencies.
We look forward to future discussions of strategies to address the needs of the diverse communities impacted by COVID-19 and HIV.
Call for Scholarly Submissions
PHR has issued a call for manuscripts for a special issue, Innovative Approaches to COVID-19 Case Investigation and Contact Tracing, sponsored by the State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support Task Force of the CDC COVID-19 Response. Types of manuscripts sought are public health evaluations, original research, public health methodology, case studies, and commentaries. The submissions deadline is July 1, 2021.
Published since 1878, PHR is the official journal of the Office of the Surgeon General and the U.S. Public Health Service. The journal is published through an agreement with the Association of Schools and Programs in Public Health. PHR’s mission is to facilitate the movement of science into public health practice and policy to positively affect the health and wellness of the U.S. population.