The Secretary's Minority AIDS Initiative Fund (SMAIF) and viral hepatitis are two topics that will be in the spotlight next week at the 2018 U.S. Conference on AIDS. Each is the theme of a pathway – a series of workshops – offered at the conference and supported by the HHS Office of HIV/AIDS and Infectious Disease Policy (OHAIDP). USCA participants are encouraged to attend to learn more about these important issues, hear about successful models and strategies, and share their own experiences and ideas with experts and others working in the field. The 2018 USCA takes place September 6-9 in Orlando, Florida.
This pathway will feature lessons, approaches, and tools from recent projects supported by the Secretary's Minority AIDS Initiative Fund (SMAIF) as well as workshops exploring important current issues in our national response to HIV. Supporting projects in 40 states, DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam that are conducted by more than 200 health departments, health centers, and community organizations, SMAIF is transforming HIV prevention, care, and treatment for communities of color by bringing federal, state, and community organizations together to design and test innovative solutions that address critical emerging needs and work to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and impact of federal investments in HIV programs and services for racial and ethnic minorities. Learn more about SMAIF.
The sessions in this pathway include:
- MSM of Color and HIV: Putting Biomedical Interventions into the Mix – This workshop will share lessons from SMAIF-supported projects that sought to increase the use of biomedical interventions – HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and treatment as prevention (TasP) – to reduce the new HIV infections among racial/ethnic minority gay, bisexual, same-gender loving and other men who have sex with men (MSM).
- Systems Change to Improve the Health of Racial/Ethnic Minorities – This session will explore successful changes to HIV prevention, care, and treatment systems serving people of color that resulted from SMAIF-supported projects. These include: (1) improving HIV screening, prevention, and care within the Indian Health Service, (2) improving the ability of community health centers to conduct routine HIV screening and provide high-quality HIV care, (3) developing data-sharing agreements to support data-to-care activities, and (4) HIV programs for black and Latino gay and bisexual men. These changes can be adopted and adapted by other communities and organizations.
In addition, the pathway will feature two special sessions exploring important current issues in our national response to HIV:
- The Consensus: Communicating about HIV Treatment as Prevention – Multiple recent research studies have confirmed that people living with HIV who take HIV medication daily as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load have effectively no risk of sexually transmitting HIV to their HIV-negative partners. Although the science is clear, messaging about this important new understanding about the prevention benefits of HIV treatment aren't yet. Effectively communicating about the effects of HIV treatment has the potential to improve health outcomes among people living with HIV, prevent new infections, and reduce HIV-related stigma. Learn about how HHS agencies and offices have worked together and with community input to develop consensus on consistent messaging about this topic, how those messages are being used, and explore how you might use these messages in your work.
- The Opioid Crisis and Injection Related Infectious Diseases – The intersection between the nation's epidemic of opioid and other substance use disorders with HIV, viral hepatitis, and other injection-related infections is receiving increasing attention. This workshop will explore emerging solutions and opportunities for better addressing client needs by integrating information and services.
The SMAIF pathway sessions will be offered on Thursday, September 6 and Friday, September 7.
Viral Hepatitis Pathway
Also comprised of four sessions, the viral hepatitis pathway is being coordinated by NASTAD. Corinna Dan, OHAIDP's Viral Hepatitis Policy Advisor, will be a panelist in two of the sessions:
- Eliminating HCV among People Living with HIV – HCV is a serious coinfection among approximately 20% of people living with HIV in the United States. With the advent of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) that can cure HCV, we have an important opportunity to eliminate HCV among people living with HIV and dramatically improve their health outcomes. This session will provide an overview of HIV and HCV co-infection, highlight key policy recommendations for eliminating HCV among PLWHIV, and explore state and local elimination efforts.
- Hepatitis Elimination as an Equity Issue – Viral hepatitis disproportionately impacts a number of populations in the United States, including people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Hispanics as well as people who inject drugs. The goal of eliminating viral hepatitis as a public health threat can only be achieved if these disparities are addressed that those communities most impacted by viral hepatitis are engaged and put at the forefront of our work.
The pathway's other sessions include:
- Meeting People Where They Are: Person-Centered Hepatitis Programming – This session will explore person-centered hepatitis programs including peer-based prevention and linkage in corrections and community settings, wound care as an entry point to HCV testing and linkage, and integrating hepatitis programming into substance use treatment.
- Syndemics of HIV, Hepatitis, and Overdose – This session will explore the syndemics of HIV, viral hepatitis, and the opioid crisis, and how health departments, community-based organizations, and communities are working to respond.
The viral hepatitis pathway sessions also will be offered on Thursday and Friday.
Join us, meet our staff and other experts, and share your experiences during these sessions and throughout 2018 USCA.
Be Heard: Listening Session on National Strategic Plans
Also at USCA, be on the lookout for a special listening session. The current National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan (NVHAP) both expire in 2020. Scientific advances, the evolution of the health care system, emerging strategies for effective prevention, treatment and cure, and ongoing and emerging challenges such as the opioid crisis have created imperatives and opportunities to renew and extend these plans designed to move us, as a nation together, toward the goal of eliminating both diseases as public health threats in the United States.
Join community leaders, frontline workers, individuals living with and at risk for infection, and other members from the community at the listening session to share your thoughts and experiences to help inform the updated NHAS and NVHAP.