ONAP Convenes EHE Jurisdictions: Washington, DC and Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, Maryland
Last month, staff from the Prevention through Active Community Engagement (PACE) program traveled to Washington, DC for a retreat to learn about regional successes and brainstorm about the future of the program. While there, Harold Phillips, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, convened a meeting of the PACE officers alongside staff from three Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative priority jurisdictions—Washington, DC and Prince George’s County and Montgomery County, both in Maryland. The jurisdictions shared recent successes with EHE implementation in each of their jurisdictions and ways in which they are collaborating to enhance HIV awareness in the DC/Maryland region.
EHE Initiative Highlights
In Washington, DC, the local health department has created a PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) hotline that operates 24/7 and connects DC residents to a trained medical provider. Callers will be able to pick-up their initial PEP medications from Walgreens pharmacies located throughout DC. PEP is a 28-day course of medication that must be started within 72 hours of a potential HIV exposure. Just last month, DC Health, the DC Department of Behavioral Health, and the DC Fire & Emergency Medical Services Department announced the rollout of a pilot project that places six harm reduction vending machines providing lifesaving tools such as Naloxone (Narcan) and fentanyl test strips, along with health and wellness products such as wound care kits in areas of the city with the highest overdose rates.
When Montgomery County received the first EHE initiative funding, they began an extensive community engagement process. The process led to the launch of the county ’s HIV education campaign, “Do It For Montgomery County.” Montgomery County has also seen a marked increase in new PrEP prescriptions in part based on new status-neutral coordinators placed throughout the county and the hiring of a Spanish-speaking PrEP navigator.
Additionally, Prince George’s County shared their work to incorporate HIV prevention and care services into a variety of social services offered through the local government such as the Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) program. They also highlighted their work to expand HIV education and sexual health wellness programs with faith-based institutions and their work with Bowie State University, a historically black university, located in the county.
The three jurisdictions also shared how they collaborated to produce a podcastExit Disclaimer, Positive Voices. The podcast features experts and covers topics such as dating, HIV and aging, mental health and HIV, and Black women and HIV.
After hearing from each jurisdiction, meeting participants discussed common challenges such as working to ensure that all partners understand and define new terms such as status-neutral in the same work, public health and healthcare workforce shortages, and restrictions on federal funding.
History of PACE Program
The PACE program was established in 2019 by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health to support jurisdictional efforts to implement and sustain the EHE initiative. The PACE program was developed to spearhead the EHE initiative in partnership with federal agencies and non-federal organizations in Regions IV, VI, & IX, with direct oversight in 30 of the 57 national priority jurisdictions and 6 of the 7 states with significant rural HIV burden. Read more about PACE program’s efforts and accomplishments here.