African American HIV University Science and Treatment College Training 3
By Gerald Garth
The African American HIV University Science and Treatment College (AAHU STC) seeks to increase the HIV/AIDS science, treatment and prevention literacy of Black Americans by training AAHU Fellows who are also members of the Black Treatment Advocates Network (BTAN). The 16 Fellows, who represent community-based and AIDS service organizations nationwide, develop strategic action plans to respond to the AIDS epidemic in their communities.
AAHU SCT consists of three five-day training sessions. Trainings 1 and 2 focus on science and community mobilization, respectively. Conducted most recently this March, Training 3 centers on planning and implementing each Fellow’s community strategy and developing his or her evaluation internship, in which Fellows assess the needs of their communities and build a strategic plan to respond to the findings. Consisting of lectures, group discussions, reading and inter-active learning activities, the module prepares each Fellow to use public health approaches to develop strategies to strengthen his or her respective BTAN network.
Under the guidance of training and capacity-building coordinator Denishia Clark, on day 1 the Fellows presented information about their city’s demographics, epidemics, targeted population, available services and unmet needs, as well as identified resources, BTAN partners and projects.
On day two, Fellows received training on how to conduct successful public health initiatives, including methods of planning programs and evaluating evidence-based research. Representatives from Janssen Therapeutics and Gilead Pharmaceuticals offered support. Paulette Heath, director of policy and advocacy at Janssen, said, “Making people aware of treatment versus treatment education, and everything in between, is important.”
On day three, Fellows learned how to conduct a community-needs assessment to drive their BTAN chapter’s planning and development. The Black AIDS Institute’s chief design officer, Alan Bell, provided synopses of BTAN tools and branding.
The Institute’s training and evaluation coordinator, Rebekah Israel, updated the Fellows on the Brown Bag Lunch Program, which disseminates information to communities, on day 4. “The program makes resources accessible and available to those who may not otherwise have them,” Israel said.
Day five included information on how to build effective networks and programming by preparing draft proposals and presentations. Fellows’ knowledge, skills and tools were assessed. Each Fellow’s program deliverables include monthly reports detailing webinars and activities that he or she conducts, as well as personal feelings and interactions, ideas and goals, problems solved and significant occurrences in his or her local network.
“BTAN is the best tool we have to help people who are living with HIV and look like us to reach viral suppression by educating them about the importance of getting in care and staying in care,” said Leisha McKinley-Beach, the Institute’s director of stakeholder engagement and technical assistance, who provided support throughout the week.
Through ongoing efforts like BTAN and AAHU, individuals and organizations around the nation are working tirelessly to end HIV/AIDS in Black communities.
Go here for more information or to learn how to become an AAHU Fellow.
Gerald Garth is a Los Angeles-based writer, actor and accountant who works for The Black AIDS Institute.