The Oklahoma Area Tribal Epidemiology Center (OKTEC) works to improve the health of American Indians/Alaska Natives in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas by providing public health services in epidemiology, data management, data analysis, training, and health promotion/disease prevention. With FY 2020 funding from the Minority HIV/AIDS Fund (MHAF) through the Indian Health Service (IHS), the Center has engaged in numerous activities with tribal partners and communities in the IHS Oklahoma City Area to increase HIV prevention, testing, training, and data infrastructure.
The OKTEC utilized the national PrEP ECHO model to train providers in PrEP prescribing practices. ECHO stands for Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes and is a collaborative model of medical education and care management in which community providers use video technology to participate in guided practice with specialist mentors to acquire new skills. In coordination with the Northwest Portland Indian Health Board and faculty providers from across the country, OKTEC recruited and trained over 50 providers representing 34 different tribes and tribal facilities, with the majority of providers recruited from the OKTEC area, and provided continuing operational support.
The OKTEC further supported the principal investigators of the Cherokee Nation Health Services’ (CNHS) Ending the HIV Epidemic Project through technical assistance around data collection and analysis, as well as programmatic infrastructure building. The CNHS project has increased HIV screening numbers by expanding testing to non-traditional sites within the health system and increased HIV prevention capacity by training CNHS providers on PrEP prescribing practices.
In addition to expanding PrEP availability, the Center has been engaging in infrastructure building to increase HIV testing access through a text messaging system already in place and operational within the OKTEC. This system will deliver HIV self-testing kits to doorsteps throughout Indian Country. This delivery system is currently being piloted with tribal partners and has had success with the expanded system's execution and delivery. With additional opportunities from federal funders affording sustainability, the OKTEC has a goal of a statewide reach by 2021 and a national reaching program by 2022.