Washington, DC, April 29, 2013 - The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHi) today announced Total Health Partners, a new initiative in Prince George’s County, Maryland that will use highly trained community health workers to provide personalized assistance to people living with HIV/AIDS to help them link to and remain in HIV medical care. The effort is a partnership with Prince George’s County Health Department, Greater Baden Medical Services, and Heart to Hand, Inc. and an expansion of similar efforts that IPHi coordinates in the District of Columbia and Virginia. IPHi recently received prestigious national grants from the Kaiser Permanente National Community Benefit Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation, AIDS United, and M·A·C AIDS Fund to launch the program, along with funding from Washington AIDS Partnership.
Prince George’s County is home to approximately one-fifth of all people living with HIV in Maryland, second only to Baltimore City. According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, only 65% of HIV diagnosed persons in the county were linked to care in 2010 and just over one-third (37%) of HIV diagnosed persons were retained in care. Fewer still, 27%, were on antiretroviral therapy, and just 19% achieved viral suppression. These rates are below corresponding rates for Maryland and the nation overall. Research demonstrates that viral suppression is critical not only for the health and quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS, but for preventing further transmission of the disease.
The community health workers will work as members of interdisciplinary care teams at medical and support service sites across the county. As trusted members of the community who can relate to the experiences of those they support, community health workers are in a unique position to help people living with HIV/AIDS overcome barriers to medical care, including stigma, lack of a basic understanding about the disease and available services, and challenges navigating community resources.
Since 2011, IPHi has trained over 100 community health workers, including approximately 40 who have specialized in providing support to people living with HIV/AIDS. IPHi, together with its partner Washington AIDS Partnership and over 15 community-based and medical providers, has created over 25 community health worker positions throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Among those are 13 community health workers involved in Positive Pathways, a nationally recognized HIV care model in DC that enrolled over 500 people living with HIV/AIDS in its first 18 months. Positive Pathways has an intentional focus on the Wards of DC closest to Prince George’s County.
“The area straddling the border between DC and Prince George’s County is one of the most concentrated HIV/AIDS epidemics in the country,” said Michael Rhein, President and CEO of IPHi. “While there are considerable resources available to address the epidemic in DC, community-based systems of care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS are less developed and integrated across the jurisdictional line in Prince George’s County. Total Health Partners will play a critical role in ensuring that county residents have the assistance they need to access life-saving HIV/AIDS medical and support services.”
“This project is a long time coming for our county,” said Dedra Spears-Johnson, Executive Director of a community-based organization called Heart to Hand, Inc. “Too many people living with HIV/AIDS in the county are not effectively linked to medical care. Total Health Partners will make a huge difference."
About the Institute for Public Health Innovation
The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHi) provides technical capacity, leverages resources, and facilitates collaboration across sectors to develop, implement, and evaluate effective strategies that improve health and quality of life in the DC, Maryland and Virginia region. IPHi is one of the newest institutes within the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), an organization of 38 members throughout the United States and a growing aspect of the national public health infrastructure. To learn more about IPHi, visit www.institutephi.org.
The Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHi)
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