Increasing Health Literacy to Achieve an AIDS-free Generation in the United States

Since the release of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS), the nation has made gains in reducing new HIV infections for certain population groups, including women; however, in order to build upon this progress, women must continue to have access to effective, innovative gender-specific services. These services include access to women centered services and facilities, trauma-informed care, and services which address the underpinnings of HIV infection – poverty, discrimination and violence against women. Moreover, women need these services from a health literate and culturally competent workforce. Often times it is the front-line (greeters, receptionists) and community (outreach worker, educators, community health workers and case managers) of community-based HIV organizations that these women come in contact with first before seeing primary and specialty care staff. Their understanding of the science of HIV is critically important for both treatment and prevention.

A recent study sought to determine the level of knowledge amongst the current HIV work force. In 2013, the Black AIDS Institute (BAI), in conjunction with NASTAD and the Latino Commission on AIDS with support from Janssen Therapeutics launched a national survey to assess the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs (KAB) of the HIV workforce. The goal of the assessment was to better understand what the HIV workforce knows about the science of HIV.  The primary results of a national survey on the health literacy of the HIV workforce indicated much work needs to be done to strengthen the health literacy of the HIV workforce, especially at the community level.

Building upon the preliminary findings of the aforementioned study, NWAC, with support from Janssen Therapeutics and technical assistance form Black AIDS Institute, will host a HIV health literacy webinar series to be launched January 2015. The goal of this four-part webinar series is to improve linkage and retention to care for women by improving HIV-related health literacy among employees at women-led and focused community-based HIV organizations (CBHO) and programs across the U.S. and its territories. The two primary objectives associated with these health literacy trainings include demonstrating: 1) An increase in the level of knowledge about HIV prevention, care, treatment within the context of the HIV Care Continuum and 2) An increase in the level of knowledge about HIV vulnerabilities (i.e. structural factors, trauma, co-morbidities, and other health conditions) which may impede access and linkage to HIV prevention, care and treatment.

To learn more about this webinar series or to join our mailing list please email: Ingrid Floyd, Co-Chair of NWAC Capacity Building, at ifloyd@irishouse.org.

Visit www.nwac-us.org to learn more about our work and to become a member.

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