Lessons from the 2016 Ryan White Conference

2016 Ryan White ConfLast month, NACCHO’s HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis team attended the 2016 National Ryan White Conference on HIV Care and Treatment. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), HIV/AIDS Bureau (HAB), the conference convened more than 2,400 grantees, consumers, stakeholders, and healthcare professionals from across the nation.

Leading with a theme of “Forward Momentum: Accelerating Access. Optimizing Care. Transforming Public Health,” the conference set a vision for how the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) will continue providing comprehensive HIV care and treatment services to people living with HIV (PLWH) in the United States. Much of the conversation focused on how funding and resources from RWHAP could build state and local capacity to advance the National HIV/AIDS Strategy: Updated to 2020.

The plenary sessions, led by speakers from federal, state and local organizations, offered great insight into how we must work collaboratively across sectors and jurisdictions to decrease new HIV infections, reduce HIV-related health disparities, and improve access to HIV care and treatment without stigma and discrimination. The opening plenary provided perspectives from across the leadership of HHS about the unique strengths of RWHAP, what it has accomplished over the last 25 years, scientific advances in the field, and the identification of strategies and tools to bring us closer to ending the HIV epidemic and achieving an AIDS-free generation. The plenary on the second day focused on health equity, how social determinants of health impact HIV care and treatment outcomes, and what can be done to address related challenges. The closing plenary highlighted examples of the integration of HIV prevention, care, and treatment, along with innovative approaches to program and service delivery at the local and state level.

From among a multitude of breakout sessions, NACCHO had the opportunity to present at a workshop titled, “Establishing and Sustaining HIV Care and Treatment in Communities Vulnerable to Large Increases in HIV/HCV.”  This session examined issues of vulnerability to HIV and the hepatitis C virus (HCV) among people who inject drugs—particularly in suburban and rural areas—and approaches to building capacity to deliver sufficient HIV care and treatment within such communities. The presenters discussed the 2015 outbreak of HIV in Scott County, Indiana, that was tied to injection of prescription opiates within a dense and intergenerational needle-sharing network. They discussed the similarities between Scott County, Indiana and Wise County, Virginia, where efforts are currently underway to assess Virginia’s vulnerability to rapid increases in HIV infection among people who inject drugs and to determine how best to establish the infrastructure necessary for prevention and harm reduction interventions and HIV/HCV treatment.

From scientific advancements to social determinants of health, the conference served as an excellent forum to highlight the latest innovations in HIV care and treatment from leaders in the field, identify and discuss strategies to enhance programmatic and fiscal knowledge, and share best practices. We look forward to applying the lessons learned from the conference to support NACCHO’s RWHAP members and other local health departments seeking to improve their delivery of services across the HIV care continuum.

Check out the daily recaps below for a full overview of the conference discussions and events:

About Kim Rodgers

Kim Rodgers serves as a Communications Specialist at NACCHO. Her work includes promoting local health departments' best practices, as well as partner tools and resources, in infectious disease and preparedness through NACCHO's communications channels, storytelling, and outreach to various audiences.

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