Day three at the 2018 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care & Treatment kicked off with a plenary session panel moderated by leadership from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) HIV/AIDS Bureau and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention. Representatives from three metropolitan areas across the country provided insights on developing partnerships within jurisdictions and establishing their roles in creating and implementing plans to end the HIV epidemic.
In introductory remarks, co-moderator Steven Young, Division Director at HRSA HAB's Division of Metropolitan HIV/AIDS Programs and Acting Director of the Division of State HIV/AIDS Programs, provided an overview of how many communities and states have developed end the epidemic plans. Co-moderator Janet Cleveland, Deputy Director for Prevention Programs in CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said she "never thought we would have this particular discussion" about how to create a plan to bring an end to HIV/AIDS.
Opening the discussion, Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program recipients from Phoenix/Maricopa County, Arizona, described their transition away from silos of funding and organizational activities toward integration of services, which began by building leadership skills. Presenter John Sapero, Office Chief of HIV Prevention Program at the Arizona Department of Health Services, said, "We realized we needed to develop leadership, across-the-board, to develop an audacious and bold plan." Presenter Rose Conner, the Phoenix/Maricopa County Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part A Program Director, observed that "there was ample talking, negotiating, debating and some water," as there were tears in some meetings. In the end there was consensus about what would be included in the plan to end the epidemic. Among their wrap-up tips: create specific performance metrics to monitor your planning process and share data using plain language and with graphics, to give people better quality information that they can understand. To read the Arizona "Victory Over HIV" plan, visit https://hivaz.org/victory.
Representing Atlanta/Fulton County, Georgia, panelists Daniel Driffin, Director of Development & External Affairs at THRIVE Support Services, and Melanie Thompson, Principal Investigator at the AIDS Research Consortium of Atlanta, talked about how Fulton County had limited resources to support their planning process and how the planning process evolved under a blue-ribbon commission of elected officials. The commission was stirred to take on leadership by community advocates, which morphed into a task force that adopted methodologies from other Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program Part A planning groups. Mr. Driffin said, "We started our process off with data and let it speak for itself." Thompson said, "The most important thing we did was convene listening sessions all over the county, which informed our plan." People were waiting for a reason to work together, she added. "People emerged. We organized calls. Wrote our own minutes. Found our own meeting space. It really happened because people were committed and felt they were being heard." To read their Strategy to End AIDS in Fulton County, visit https://www.fultoncountyga.gov/hivtf-strategy-to-end-aids.
Representing Washington, DC, panelists Michael Kharfen, Senior Deputy Director of the DC Department of Health HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration and member of DC CFAR Executive Committee, and Walter Smith, Executive Director at DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, highlighted the city's nine-year public/private partnership that lead to the creation of an end the epidemic strategy and plan. Their initial work involved securing mayoral support and directives for city agencies to work with the partnership in collecting information and tracking activities, which generated annual report cards identifying strengths and areas "where more attention was needed," said Mr. Kharfen. Subsequently, the partnership started a community engagement process and helped establish their 90/90/50 plan, incorporating the kind of strategies that provide more than a grade and outlining how achieve goals. To read their "Ending the Epidemic in the District of Columbia 2020" plan, visit https://dchealth.dc.gov/page/90909050-plan-ending-epidemic-district-columbia-2020.
Ms. Cleveland closed the plenary with these observations: First, relationships are important—with federal agencies, public health departments, local agencies, law enforcement officials, and policy officials. Second, data is driving everything that we do. Behind every data point is a human being. And third, "we know what the science is, we know what we have to do. If we don't pass the science to the implementers, we will never get to where we need to be." Added Mr. Young, "we also need to pass our knowledge along to the next generation."
Lifetime Achievement Award
At the end of the plenary session, HRSA HAB leadership delivered a surprise to panel co-moderator Steven Young, recognizing his nearly three decades of contributions to ending the HIV epidemic with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
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