Programs & Services
ACRIA’s menu of workshops, training, education, and technical assistance programs is managed by the HIV Health Literacy Program (HHLP); and promoting health literacy is central to ACRIA’s program philosophy. All of our projects and activities communicate the most up-to-date information about HIV in language that is accessible to both caregivers and people living with the disease. People with HIV are educated about the available treatment options and empowered to participate actively in their own healthcare, while staff trainings equip providers and a host of other professional caregivers with the tools to support their HIV-positive and at-risk clients. HHLP’s services, which began as a series of staff trainings and client workshops, have expanded to include not only the well-regarded local and national technical assistance and capacity building programs, but also tailored programming aimed at HIV service providers, substance use programs, local and state health departments, faith-based organizations, LGBT organizations, and agencies serving older adults. In the coming year, ACRIA’s HHLP staff will conduct more than 1,000 trainings nationwide for 5,000 to 7,000 participants. Approximately half of those trainings will take place in New York City. In addition, ACRIA’s technical assistance and capacity-building assistance program now includes many web-based and trainings, and an increasing number include continuing education credits for health professionals, such as MDs and RNs.
National Technical Assistance and Capacity Building
ACRIA’s work on a national scale began in 1999 with the creation of the National Technical Assistance and Capacity Building (NTA) program. NTA is a three-phase program of information sharing and skills building for service providers. The program consists of an outreach/assessment phase, featuring extensive community mobilization and needs assessments; a training and technical assistance and capacity building assistance (TA/CBA) phase, featuring four days of intensive training, information sharing, skills building and networking; and a follow-up phase consisting of further training and ongoing TA/CBA for participating organizations. A local (New York City) TA/CBA program was instituted in 2000, and a nationwide series of trainings on older adults and HIV began in 2008.
Through these workshops and trainings, ACRIA staff have strengthened and provided support for HIV and other service organizations in over 20 cities around the country. Although we do not collect information on the race and ethnicity of people receiving training and TA/CBA, we do ask about the demographics of their agencies. From their reports and our observations, approximately 90 percent of participants are people of color, and all training participants represent agencies that serve minority populations.
This program can be tailored to meet local needs, and may be presented in two or three days depending on participant priorities and resources. Based on a thorough needs assessment, and regardless of the format chosen, curriculums can be tailored from ACRIA’s library of more than 25 educational modules. Available modules include:
- HIV Transmission & Testing
- Introduction to the Immune System
- Overview of HIV & AIDS
- HIV Lifecycle
- Opportunistic Infections
- HIV & Mental Health
- Current Antiretroviral Therapy & Pipeline Medicines
- Adherence Strategies
- HIV & Hepatitis C Co-infection
- Viral Hepatitis
- Managing Drug Side Effects
- Understanding Lab Results
- Getting the Most from Your Healthcare Provider
- Clinical Trials
- Older Adults & HIV
- Treatment Issues for Women
- Pregnancy & HIV
- Drug Interactions: Methadone, Street Drugs & HIV Medications
The training also includes skills-building modules, such as:
- Understanding Your Client Populations
- Presentation Skills: Engaging the Client
- Cultural & Linguistic Competency
- The Importance of Evaluation
- Confidentiality & Boundary Issues
- The Role of the Non-Medical Provider in Health Literacy & Counseling
- Evaluating the Integrity of HIV Health Information Resources
Regardless of its length, every training includes follow-up technical assistance, including one return site visit by ACRIA staff and the opportunity for representatives from some participating agencies to make a site-visit to our offices in New York. All participants receive the full training manual with all modules, and additional modules and other updates as they are released. Staff from each participating agency takes part in the development of a personalized integration plan and benefits from ongoing remote assistance.
Trainings are open to a variety of staff, caregivers, and providers. Past participants have included social workers, hospital and clinic caseworkers, alcohol and substance abuse counselors, nurses, community educators, and staff at AIDS service and other community-based organizations.
New York City Older Adults Initiative
ACRIA strengthens communities across New York City by expanding access to and utilization of HIV prevention and testing services. Through the New York City Older Adults HIV Initiative, ACRIA:
1) promotes community mobilization among senior, faith-based, HIV service, prevention, and treatment service providers;
2) educates seniors on ways to prevent the spread of HIV and trains healthcare providers on serving older adults with HIV
3) promotes collaborations between and among HIV service providers, aging service providers, faith-based organizations and health care providers;
4) works to reduce stigma, expands availability of HIV services, provides HIV prevention messages tailored for older adults, and addresses issues related to various aspects of HIV and aging;
5) works with organizations serving middle-aged and older adults in high-risk areas to make HIV testing available; and
6) conducts behavioral research on older adults living with or at risk for HIV.
NTA in the Deep South
With nearly 50% of all Americans with HIV living in the South, ACRIA has prioritized improving services in the region with an emphasis on rural areas where health care and other services are scarce. Having demonstrated the effectiveness of our work in other parts of the country, ACRIA received initial support from the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 2009 to begin working in some of the hardest-hit cities in the South. Since then, ACRIA has brought together diverse groups of participants—including social workers, public health officials, correctional facility personnel, faith-based outreach workers, and other front line staff, to name a few—with widely varying skill sets and knowledge about HIV and related topics for a series of trainings. Over the past three years, our trainers have worked with service providers in Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Louisiana—states with some of the highest rates of HIV in the country.
Through this work we have seen first-hand the challenges faced in this region by people with HIV, their caregivers, service providers, and others face in accessing accurate and up-to-date information about HIV treatment and prevention, as well as in receiving quality care and services. High rates of poverty, low education levels, homophobia, and racism only exacerbate an already dire situation. ACRIA’s training experts have worked through these challenges to equip service providers with the information necessary to address the needs of the clients they serve. ACRIA staff have provided technical and capacity building assistance in three cities each year, while continuing to support previous participants with additional TA through web-based trainings and on-going follow-up. Each year, we have recruited approximately 80 participants from 60 agencies, with the goal of each participant sharing what they have learned with 10 to 30 staff and 50 to 300 clients at their respective organizations or within their community. Our trainings have the potential to reach 2,400 service providers and over 8,000 clients each year.
Center of Expertise
ACRIA was named by the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute to serve as the state’s Center of Expertise on Aging, HIV, STDs and Viral Hepatitis in October 2011. ACRIA will serve as a statewide Center of Expertise in this area through 2016. As part of this work, ACRIA has developed and conducted five webinars for 420 participants so far this year. In addition, ACRIA has presented on HIV and aging at the New York State Aging Conference (500 participants), the Western New York Aging Conference (200 participants), and a meeting of the State Office on Aging Administrators (25 participants).
Social Messaging Campaigns
In June 2011, ACRIA launched a New York City-wide ad campaign targeting older adults at risk for HIV. In English and Spanish, the ads use provocative images and messages that not only grab people’s attention but also quickly get a vital prevention and treatment message across. The ads, which remind older adults that they too are at risk for HIV, were strategically placed in 150 public bus shelters throughout New York City with high HIV rates and concentrations of older adults. A new social messaging campaign was launched in early June 2012 in another 72 bus shelters in targeted communities.
For more information on ACRIA’s HIV Health Literacy Program and our education materials, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.