A Peer-Driven System of Healthcare Access for People Living with HIV/AIDS
Positive Pathways, an initiative of the Washington AIDS Partnership and the Institute for Public Health Innovation, assists HIV-positive African Americans living in the District of Columbia to access and effectively benefit from HIV medical care, with a particular focus on women and their partners.
Using Trained Peers to Complement Conventional Medical and Outreach Strategies
Positive Pathways has established a network of 13 trained peer community health workers (CHWs), who are placed in clinical and non-clinical settings with the goal of identifying out-of-care HIV-positive individuals. CHWs focus on building peer-based trust and informing individuals about living with HIV, providing personalized assistance to help them enter and navigate service systems, and supporting them throughout the early part of their medical care until they become fully engaged.
Peer CHWs utilize their unique position to address barriers to care that can present challenges for other medical professionals, such as providing trust-based information and education, overcoming denial and stigma, conducting outreach and support deep in the community, taking the time to walk clients through the healthcare system, and helping clients strategize to manage the logistics of caring for oneself in the context of a complicated life.
To learn more about how Positive Pathways built the skills and confidence of participating community health workers and how the CHWs in turn helped others, see this video: Positive Pathways Workforce Development Video.
Working in D.C. Communities with the Highest Need
CHWs hired through the initiative are placed at community, managed care, and medical care providers throughout Wards 5-8, city areas that have the highest HIV prevalence. Host sites include: AmeriHealth DC, Andromeda Transcultural Health, Blair Underwood Clinic, Family & Medical Counseling Services, HIPS, Unity Health Care, Whitman-Walker Health, and The Women’s Collective. Last year, Washington AIDS Partnership and IPHI expanded Positive Pathways to also cover Prince George’s County, Maryland.
A Partnership for Success
Positive Pathways has involved a variety of partners including, among others:
- Washington AIDS Partnership
- Institute for Public Health Innovation
- Community-based and medical sites listed above
- AmeriHealth DC, a Medicaid Managed Care Plan
- University of D.C. Community College
- D.C. Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration
- DC Primary Care Association
- Ribbon Consulting Group
The initiative is funded by AIDS United, through its grant from the Social Innovation Fund, a federal initiative based at the Corporation for National and Community Service. Other funders include Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Consumer Health Foundation, D.C. Department of Health, John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States, M∙A∙C AIDS Fund, and World Bank.