Care, well-being, and quality of life of people living with HIV and AIDS
Policy, Program, Intervention or other types of research evaluation
Issues : It can be challenging for advocacy organizations and direct service providers to build strong lasting relationships. Service providers are often removed from political life and nervous about engaging in policy activity, and advocacy organizations often don't have on the ground perspective on the challenging of running housing services. The problem is often compounded in the south because of a lack of funding, increased stigma, and a conservative political environment.
In North Carolina, Carolinas CARE Partnership (CCP) and NC AIDS Action Network (NCAAN) have worked together to build strong relationships and lasting partnerships that have benefited both organizations and the broader affordable housing and HIV advocacy communities.
Description : Both NCAAN and CCP have a strong track record of organizational success. NCAAN had led successful efforts to expand access to the state’s HIV Medication Assistance Program (formerly known as the AIDS Drug Assistance Program), gain state funding for viral hepatitis testing and linkage to the cure, and modernized NC’s HIV criminal law. Through education and advocacy, NCAAN successfully gained the support of the NC congressional delegation and other key stakeholders to support modernizing the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program in 2016.
CCP is the project sponsor for the HOPWA program for Mecklenburg County, North Carolina’s most populous county. CCP has developed a continuum of care that provides both direct housing services and funding to agencies for numerous services and programs designed to meet the housing needs of low-income people and families living with HIV/AIDS.
Each year, CCP provides housing services to 650 people living with HIV and their families. 94% of families in CCP’s voucher program, including people who are chronically homeless, remain stably housed after one year in services. 82% of housing clients are virally suppressed and 100% remain engaged in medical care.
Lessons learned : CCP attributes their success in maintaining housing and high rates of viral suppression to two innovative practices: implementation of peer support for our clients with the most significant challenges and mental health services focused on addressing barriers to housing stability and viral suppression.
Over the last three years, NCAAN and CCP have increased their collaboration to the mutual benefit of their respective organizations and movements. NCAAN facilitated advocacy work to educate key partners and elected officials about the benefit of HOPWA formula modernization, which southern states and Mecklenburg County stands to gain significantly from when fully implemented.
NCAAN served as the facilitator of CCP’s board retreat and strategic planning process, and CCP has increased staff participation in major NCAAN events and advocacy opportunities.
Recommendations : To build political power and end the HIV epidemic in southern states, local service organizations must build and join powerful advocacy networks. These organizations must move forward both federal policy work to benefit the south along with local campaigns at the state and county level.
Advocacy organizations and networks must observe first-hand from service organizations about the particular issues that are caused or exacerbated by local, state, and national policies, established service delivery systems, and the dynamic nature of this epidemic.