PACE Program Rebranded as OIDP Engagement Teams

Content From: HIV.govPublished: May 08, 20243 min read


CDR Rodrigo Chavez, Tamara Stephney, and Kenneth Johnson
CDR Rodrigo Chavez; Tamara Stephney, CEO of Abounding Prosperity; and Kenneth Johnson, HRSA Project Officer at USCHA 2023

The HHS Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) has renamed the Prevention through Active Community Engagement (PACE) program as OIDP Engagement Teams. The new name represents the expansion of the program’s focus to include syndemics and health equity, as well as coverage of additional priority jurisdictions of the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative.

“We are building on past accomplishments and optimizing program outcomes through modifications in our approach while continuing to work with our partners,” said CAPT Jyl Martin, MPH, CHES®, Lead, OIDP Engagement Teams.

Established in 2019, Engagement Teams advance the EHE initiative in the field. They work with federal partners, states, counties, community-based organizations, and other local entities to bridge the community/federal communication gap. They also enhance HIV service delivery in regions most affected by HIV.

“Over the past four years, our Engagement Teams have been working hard to collaborate, convene, and connect partners with resources and best practices while amplifying community voices to inform policy,” said LT Alberto Pina, MPH, Public Health Analyst, Engagement Team Region 9.

A Syndemic Approach

LT Erica Bussey-Jones speaks at a podium.
LT Erica Bussey-Jones at Fast Track Cities Dallas Intra-Jurisdictional Workshop

Essential to the Engagement Teams’ work is addressing the intersections of the public health syndemic of HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs, COVID, mpox, substance use and mental health disorders. The teams empower partners through technical assistance, resources, and training to ensure effective outreach and expansion of testing, prevention, and treatment services for populations impacted by these collective challenges. “The teams learned during these four years that in order to end the HIV epidemic in the U.S., it was vital to expand and rebrand to implement a syndemic approach and include efforts to address co-morbidities and social determinants of health while championing inclusivity and equity,” said Rodrigo Chavez, M.H.A., Deputy Director, Engagement Team Region 6.

Their approach follows the roadmap of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy through engagement of the Strategy’s priority populations and support of its key indicators. Programs and activities cover topic areas that include but are not limited to:

  • Social and structural barriers that confound the HIV response, particularly with an assessment of the vital conditionsExit Disclaimer for health and well-being
  • Health equity, reducing HIV-related disparities; improving health outcomes; enhancing community capacity to respond to the epidemic
  • The lived experience of those affected by HIV
  • Integration of HIV into other models of care (including provider capacity building and other clinical practice and administration transformation opportunities) and wrap-around services.

“The Engagement Team's work affirms the federal government's commitment to community engagement and ensuring that people with lived experiences and communities have a voice in the decision-making,” said CDR Michelle Sandoval-Rosario, DrPH, MPH, Program Director Region 9.

LT Erica Bussey-Jones, MPH, Engagement Team Region 6, said the Engagement Teams are unique in how they act as liaisons between community partners and the federal government. “Much of our success has come from gaining the trust of the communities we serve and ensuring their concerns are heard by our leadership,” she said.

Babak Yaghmaei, MPH, Deputy Director Regions 3, 4 and 5, added: “The Engagement Teams offer all our colleagues and me the unique opportunity to be the bridge that links resources, improves health care quality in vulnerable communities, and analyzes policy challenges.”

OIDP will remain steadfast in harmonizing the national HIV response with community partners through the Engagement Teams’ regional outreach and anticipates significant achievements from this evolution and new direction.