The U.S. Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) is convening meetings with community members, service providers, and state and local health departments as part of a series of regional forums being held across the country to better inform the updated 2016-2020 National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). The forums each focus on a specific goal of the NHAS, with the next two regional forums to be held in Detroit, MI (May 7) and Boston, MA (May 8).
Social workers have a key role in supporting the goals of the NHAS: 1) reduce the number of new infections, 2) increase access the care and treatment, and, 3) reduce health disparities, as well as the broader goal of the NHAS: using innovation and integration of prevention and care to improve the HIV Care Continuum.
Whether through individual clinical practice or community based agency work, social workers have the opportunity to help clients identify and build strategies to promote mental health and wellness. We do so by seeking out opportunities to talk with clients and patients about HIV prevention, where to go for HIV testing, and work with clients to build skills so that they can access and engage in health and mental health services.
Educating ourselves is key. To help reduce the number of new cases of HIV or AIDS, learn about how to incorporate treatment as prevention into your practice. One example is educating clients about Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which is a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk of getting HIV to prevent HIV infection by taking a pill every day. Be a part of the social work response by learning more about the role of NASW in supporting the National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
To participate in a regional meeting or the on-line public forum schedule for May 2015, go to the Office on National AIDS Policy website.
Evelyn Tomaszewski, MSW, Senior Policy Associate – HIV/AIDS, LGBT Issues, and Global Violence Prevention firstname.lastname@example.org