On Monday, September 25th, the EDIT Program collaborated with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to host the Project PrIDE Community Forum. Project PrIDE is a CDC-funded initiative that supports health departments implementing demonstration projects on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and Data to Care (use of HIV surveillance data to re-engage patients in care). The forum brought together the six PrEP and two Data to Care projects that are funded in Chicago through CDPH. Our Evaluation Center Extension team has been working with these delegate agencies for the past 12 months to plan and implement evaluation activities, as well as offer technical assistance services. Over 70 healthcare providers, community agency staff, city officials, and researchers packed the room at the University Center for this event.
Dr. George Greene, Principal Investigator of the Evaluation Center Extension, welcomed participants to the community forum, and Patrick Stonehouse, Director of HIV Prevention at CDPH, opened the event by discussing the importance of engaging community agencies to deliver PrEP and HIV care services to diverse populations. Dr. Lisa Henry-Reid, the keynote speaker, highlighted the root causes of HIV disparities and called for enhanced efforts to link and retain individuals in a culturally competent healthcare, and ended her talk stating, “the only way we are going to make inroads in addressing these health disparities is through collaborating as a community.”
Following these opening remarks, including a presentation of initial evaluation findings by Drs. Gregory Phillips II and Amy Johnson, the eight Project PrIDE community agencies presented early findings and lessons learned from their projects in a bustling poster session. For most organizations, this was their first formal opportunity to talk about their experiences and the data they had collected. Importantly, forum attendees were able to engage the poster presenters in an informative dialogue, as many of them seek to start PrEP or Data to Care programs in their organizations in the near future.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with three panel presentations covering topics from expanding client outreach through community partnerships, to innovations and best practices for improving engagement and retention in care from the healthcare provider perspective. The panelists were frontline staff, coordinators, and providers directly involved with the implementation of Project PrIDE activities and represented Howard Brown Health, Heartland Human Care Services, Esperanza Health Centers, Austin Health Center, Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, and University of Chicago Medicine.
To conclude the forum, Mr. Stonehouse expressed his excitement about the afternoon’s conversations and called for additional dialogues in the future. The HIV landscape in Chicago is ever-changing, and it was clear from the forum that if local healthcare and social service providers want to serve individuals who are affected by HIV effectively, they we must come together, collaborate, and offer culturally responsive services.
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