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HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project conducts Training of Trainers session

By Paul R. Pace, News staff

Fourteen participants from across the U.S. traveled to Washington, D.C., in July to take part in the 2013 Training of Trainers, convened by the NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project.

By increasing the number of skilled trainers, the Spectrum Project can build the capacity of the NASW-U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy Chapter Partnership Initiative for the next project year.

Now in its 16th year, the Spectrum Project trains participants to expand the knowledge and capacity of mental health service providers — particularly social workers — in providing prevention, education, care and treatment for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

The National HIV/AIDS Strategy supports the effort through funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services. The NHAS goals are to lower HIV infection rates and to offer every person with HIV access to high-quality, life-extending care that is free from stigma and discrimination.

This year’s NASW partnership training included two curriculum topics: “Addressing ethical dilemmas in an era of complex practice issues: HIV/AIDS as a case study;” and “The role of the social worker in promoting treatment adherence: HIV/AIDS as a case study.”

In addition, trainers were provided with an overview of the effort to engage the social work profession in the NHAS implementation strategy.

According to Evelyn Tomaszewski, senior policy adviser for the NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project, the NASW partnership of train-the-trainers has been conducted in nine of the 12 cities that the NHAS has identified as having a significant increase in HIV incidence rates. Efforts are under way to promote the training with NASW chapters in the three remaining metropolitan areas: Pennsylvania, Georgia and Puerto Rico.

Tomaszewski said NHAS officials are calling for special attention to increase medication adherence among those with HIV/AIDS.

“Social workers are ideally trained in supporting clients with challenges that can affect medication adherence, such as limited social supports  and gaps in services or structural challenges,” Tomaszewski said.

One of the trainer participants was Thomas Crangle, director of New Jersey Programs for the Puerto Rican Family Institute Inc., in Jersey City, N.J.

He said it is important to him to attend the training so he can train others on the important professional issues, ethics and adherence as it is related to working with those with HIV. Also vital is “to be able to connect with other social workers and network with ideas and share ideas,” Crangle said.

He plans to deliver the information he learned to as many social workers as possible.

“I personally believe we all could use reminders about our profession as social workers, but also this may be new information for some,” he said.

Christi Haustein, director of client services at The AIDS Coalition in Huntsville, Ala., also attended the training session.

She said she signed up in part for the opportunity to talk with others about the HIV epidemic in the South.

It is important to her to exchange information with other health care providers who work in different fields, and to see what has worked for them. Haustein plans to share what she has learned with local AIDS Service Organizations and the local NASW chapter.

“I have already touched base with United Way in Birmingham, our lead agency, to plan a conference on the adherence course,” she said. “I also plan on sharing new information on adherence and ethics with my own staff.”

In related developments, Tomaszewski noted that President Obama recently created an HIV Care Continuum Initiative, with a work group comprising people from across federal agencies.  The group will comprehensively address interventions to improve outcomes along the HIV care continuum.

For more information and for a listing of workshops, trainer information and presentations, visit the NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum website: www.naswdc.org/practice/hiv_aids/

From the September 2013 NASW News

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