AIDS United Partner Attends NHAS Implementation Dialogue in Baton Rouge

By jschneidewind on November 4, 2011 in National HIV/AIDS Strategy

by Brandi Bowen, Program Director, New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council

The Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP) hosted a National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) implementation dialogue in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the Manship Theatre on October 25, 2011. The intimate venue allowed the many participants to feel the impetus of the meeting’s topic; collaboration. Mr. Jeff Crowley, Director of ONAP set the tone and emphasized the administration’s initiatives to address the domestic HIV epidemic. A warm welcome was provided by Gwen Hamilton on behalf of Mayor Kip Holden; support of the Mayor’s Office was a fine case in point towards the spirit of collaboration. Ronald Valdiserri offered an Update of Federal Implementation Efforts, which ran the gamut from cross-governmental efforts to integrate biomedical advances in prevention, treatment and care to referencing faith-based initiatives and the 12 Cities Project.

Kandy Ferree, a strategic consultant and former CEO of National AIDS Fund, addressed on public private partnerships struck strong chords with the almost 100 individuals present. In addition to connecting the dots on key pieces of partnership planning, the presentation offered many take home points in tune with these challenging times: “Examine core competencies…” “…change management takes leadership” and a “willingness to change the system.” Examples of successful partnerships in action, including AIDS United’s Access to Care initiative supported by Social Innovation Fund, were directly tied to supporting the NHAS goals and made sure to mention performance metrics. The collaborative theme was carried into the panel discussion, moderated by Terry McGovern of the Ford Foundation. The diversity of panelists, representative of governmental, community- based, and private sectors, furthered the coordinative focus. The topics panelists touched on, ranging from ADAP need to Medicaid expansion, were echoed by the community’s comments. No one seemed to mind that well organized members of the Louisiana AIDS Advocacy Network (LAAN) monopolized the mic. While referencing data evidenced in the Louisiana SHARP report, public comments covered typical topics, including expanding access to care via 1115 Waivers to reducing disparities and unmet need, with an especial request to expand the 12 Cities Project.

Personally, as a proponent of housing stability and peer programs to improve health outcomes, I would have preferred more attention to these areas, but the latter was addressed by Ferree’s mention of Health Navigators and suggestion to train and credential peers, while the former was not ignored, as Crowley emphasized the efforts made towards reducing silos, including coordination with Housing and Urban Development and increasing the supply of affordable housing. Overall, the community clearly embraced Crowley’s sentiment that there continues to be a ‘heightened sense of urgency’ to collectively work towards the vision of NHAS. Advocates present, representatives of the Baton Rouge and New Orleans’ areas primarily, but also inclusive of rural and regional peer participants, seem poised to further public private partnerships and appreciated ONAP’s presence and guidance in hosting this spirited forum.

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