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Strategy in Action: Region II Convenes National HIV/AIDS Strategy Symposium

Article / Review by on November 2, 2011 – 11:26 pmNo Comments

Strategy in Action: Region II Convenes National HIV/AIDS Strategy Symposium

“More than 200 in-person and over 180 webcast attendees participated in a recent symposium held in New York City at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region II office.

NHAS in action final

The meeting was convened by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH), Office of the Regional Health Administrator, Regional Resource Network Program (RRNP) and the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) with a focus on the implementation of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) in the region. When participants were asked by a raise of hands if they had read the Strategy, it was to no surprise that this room full of public and private sector New York City advocates were knowledgeable about the NHAS.  The daylong event earned praise from many participants for bringing together federal government officials, federal grantees, New York City advocates, and leaders in addressing HIV/AIDS in our region (New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) in a spirit of collaboration and partnership. An executive director from a Bronx AIDS service organization noted, “This is the first time I visited the HHS regional office…there’s such a spirit of collaboration at this meeting, thank you for convening us today”.

The goals of the meeting were to:

  • Educate attendees on the NHAS and provide a one year update
  • Provide an overview and update on federal initiatives/efforts in support of the NHAS
  • Highlight the importance and encourage federally-funded programs to align to the NHAS

To help achieve these goals, we worked closely with AIDS service organizations in our region to develop a robust agenda addressing their concerns and promoting opportunities for collaboration among federal, state and local partners. Collectively, we developed an agenda that included presentations about the NHAS and specific examples of how implementation is unfolding within some communities within in our region. In addition, there were opportunities for the participants to engage in small group discussions in order to identify their organizations’ strengths in alignment to the NHAS, as well as specific areas which still require further attention.

Mr. James Albino, Senior Program Manager at the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), served as our Keynote Speaker. Mr. Albino provided an overview and one year update on the NHAS. In his remarks he highlighted the importance of local support on the success of NHAS implementation.

The integration of a live webcast made this event more widely accessible across our region and nation. The participants heard an informative presentation on the HHS 12 Cities Project and NHAS Coordination by Dr. Timothy Harrison, Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of HIV/AIDS Policy (OHAP) at HHS.

Two panel presentations followed the keynotes. The first was comprised of representatives from several federal agencies with key roles in the Strategy’s implementation, including the CDC, HRSA, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Each representative shared brief updates on efforts their agencies had taken over the past year to support the implementation of the NHAS and how these efforts would be unfolding in collaboration with state and local agencies. In addition the Region II Regional Director provided an overview of the Affordable Care Act and its impact on people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

Our last panel focused on the activities of the two jurisdictions in our region (New York City and Puerto Rico) participating in the 12 Cities Project and CDC’s Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Plan (ECHPP). Their presentations focused primarily on their activities to date supported by the CDC’s Enhanced Comprehensive HIV Prevention Plan initiative, which is one pillar of the 12 Cities Project.  They also mentioned organizational infrastructure, surveillance, data issues, expansion on HIV testing approaches, and the changes to New York State HIV testing laws.

Following these presentations, the participants adjourned into small groups which focused on 1.) identifying areas in which their organizations are already aligned to the NHAS goals and priorities, and, 2.) identifying challenges to align to the Strategy. During the report outs that followed, some of the Strategy-related successes included:

  • Priority populations were being targeted.
  • Reductions in the newborn infection rate.
  • Decreased incidence among injection drug users.

The organizations also highlighted the following as areas of concern:

  • Reduction in funding for HIV testing in non-traditional settings
  • Reduction in overall funding streams
  • Continuing disparities among African Americans and Latinos

From the conversations heard and comments made, the symposium was a great benefit to all. To continue the momentum, we identified several next steps, including developing a Region II Federal interagency NHAS work group, and a community Region II NHAS work group which will further discussion and enhance collaboration.”

By Michelle S. Davis, PhD,
Regional Health Administrator, Region II,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Angelica Ramirez, Regional Resource Coordinator, Region II, collaborated in convening this meeting and coauthored this post.

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Regional Health Administrators
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

As the senior federal public health official and scientist in the region, the Regional Health Administrator performs essential functions for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in three major areas: prevention, preparedness, and agency-wide coordination.  These functions directly and indirectly support the work of the Department and the individual federal agencies.

Prevention:  The Regional Health Administrators are the regional arm by which the Assistant Secretary for Health (ASH) promotes the Department’s prevention mission and various prevention initiatives, with a special emphasis on women’s health, minority health, family planning and reproductive health as well as HIV/AIDs prevention.  Because of their unique position, as HHS leaders in long term field assignments, the Regional Health Administrators are able to serve as effective high-level departmental liaisons throughout the country with Federal, Tribal, State, and local health officials, as well as community-based organizations and health/medical institutions on matters of public and community health.

Preparedness:  In partnership with the Regional Emergency Coordinators of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), the Regional Health Administrators serve a key regional public health leadership role in matters of all-hazards preparedness. Regional Health Administrators foster collaboration among HHS preparedness staff and State and local leadership in the region and among other Federal agents on all-hazards preparedness activities of the Department.  In actual public health emergencies, Regional Health Administrators may assume the role of Senior Health Official, as directed by ASPR and the Assistant Secretary of Health.  They also serve as senior consultants to the Incident Response Coordination Team, as well as to the Regional Directors during any regional emergency response.

Facilitating Agency-wide coordination and collaboration across HHS Agencies:  Perhaps the most important role of the RHAs is to assist HHS’ coordination in a fashion that maximizes the effectiveness of the agencies in their overall mission, as well as the effectiveness of the various individual programs.  The Regional Health Administrator’s mission-critical task in this regard is to help ensure that efforts to promote health are well-aligned in the field – catalyzing collaboration where appropriate, minimizing redundancy, and providing feedback to the agencies and the Secretary to maximize programmatic effectiveness and to ensure a well integrated effort for the Department overall.  In each region, the Regional Health Administrator is uniquely situated to provide support to various initiatives of all OPDIV health missions, especially those which cross functional program lines.

About National HIV/AIDS Strategy.

HIV/AIDS Prevention & National HIV/AIDS Strategy & Facing AIDS

  1. National HIV/AIDS Strategy.
  2. National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). Overview.
  3. National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). What’s Next?
  4. National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). What You Can Do.
  5. National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). Facing AIDS.
  6. National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). 30 Years of Leadership in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS.
  7. National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS). HIV/AIDS Awareness Days.
  8. United States Conference On AIDS (USCA).

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* The above story is adapted from materials provided by USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
** More information at USA Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

HHS

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