Linkage to care and retention in care are key concepts that are driving the HIV field today. However, these terms invoke a variety of images and assumptions about how to accomplish such lofty expectations. Some may think that the responsibility of linking and retaining a patient in care falls solely on the clinician’s shoulders. This is reinforced through such tools as the treatment cascade and measures such as viral suppression which quantify how a provider is performing at a facility and, as a result, allows for comparison around how different clinical providers are faring.
However, meeting the HIV care goal is not a one-sided venture. Non-clinical providers are also essential to the success of linking and retaining clients into care.
This windy road can often be long and difficult. There are detours and hazards along the path where individuals may veer off or experience road blocks, i.e., stigma, mental health issues, substance use, lack of employment, housing issues and even a lack of social support.
In some cases, the patient may fall off of the path or out of care which makes the job of the provider challenging and frustrating. More importantly, it can make a provider feel they have failed the client or patient.
Non-clinical providers, such as case/care managers, patient navigators and outreach workers, are equipped with skills that enable them to go off the “path” to support their clients and help get them back on their healthy path. Each day, non-clinical providers develop trusting relationships and understand the day-to-day barriers that clients face, i.e., child care, fear of being mistreated, not understanding health information.
Non-clinical providers wear multiple “hats” and are experts in various topics. However, to keep pace with changes in the field, training is a necessary ‘edge’ or tool.
HIVTrainingNY.org is a training resource for all non-clinical providers offering free live and on-demand trainings across New York State. The site allows you to learn both in and out of the classroom and, more importantly, on your own schedule.
Some of the trainings that are available and can help you gain that ‘edge’ in your work, include:
• Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) Guidance This on-demand webinar outlines the PrEP guidelines, released by HIVguidelines.org and how these guidelines translate into harm reduction strategies for non-clinical providers.
• Positive Prevention: Connecting Care and Prevention This in-person training will teach strategies about how to help clients living with HIV avoid sexual and substance use behaviors which can result in negative health outcomes.
• HIV Viral Suppression: Partnerships for Success This online training will describe how HIV treatment adherence and retention in care are strongly linked with achieving viral suppression and improve health for clients living with HIV.
To view a complete listing of courses, check out http://www.hivtrainingny.org/Home/CourseListings
To register for a course:
1) Through the course list, click on Register beneath the course title and enter your account log-in information or register for a new account.
2) On the Course Registration page, click on Select to the far right of the course title.
3) On the confirmation page, click on Submit at the bottom of the page.
If you have any questions, please contact the NYSDOH AIDS Institute’s HIV, STI and Viral Hepatitis Training Programs at (518) 474-3045.
Written by Julie Schenkman and Clara DeSanctis