Conferences Focus on HIV/AIDS
By Susan Cruzan
This year’s One SAMHSA Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) Institute recently convened in Orlando, FL, to address myriad issues facing SAMHSA grantees in dealing with HIV/AIDS in their own communities. The Agency’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), and Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) organized a program and a series of workshops for the SAMHSA MAI grantees.
At the same time, more than 3,000 community leaders, caseworkers, advocates, health educators, policy makers and others convened in Orlando at the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA). SAMHSA’s MAI also offered two workshops at the USCA.
SAMHSA Administrator Pamela Hyde, J.D., in a welcoming video to more than 500 SAMHSA grantees, acknowledged that, “HIV/AIDS continues to disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. Because people living with, or at risk for, HIV/AIDS often have related substance use and mental health needs, SAMHSA is examining how to best meet the complex needs in a rapidly evolving health care environment.”
The One SAMHSA meeting welcomed the Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy, Jeffrey Crowley. “Our vision in the years ahead is that our Nation will be a place where HIV infections will be rare,” he said. Setting the stage for the meeting, he advised participants to “focus on the populations at the greatest risk.” He emphasized that as a Nation, we need to do a better job of educating all Americans about reducing HIV incidence, scaling up testing, and ensuring that people have immediate links to care.
The need to address the impact of HIV/AIDS on young people and people of color has never been greater, according to the USCA Executive Director, Paul Kawata, National Minority AIDS Council, in a letter to conference attendees. He offered data that show approximately 13 percent of those diagnosed each year are between age 13 and 24.
At the One SAMHSA workshops, grantees learned about the latest techniques and gained insight into the latest information on HIV prevention and treatment, and evidence-based programs and practices.
The Workshops organized by SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, and Center for Mental Health Services included the following:
- MEI: Minority Education Institution Initiative and HIV prevention (see Hip-Hop Culture & HIV Awareness)
- Methamphetamine use and prevention in Indian Country
- Trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive services in substance use treatment and mental health services
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program for persons living with HIV/AIDS
- Risky behaviors and liver functions
- Services for persons living with HIV/AIDS and co-occurring mental health and substance use problems.
For more information on SAMHSA’s work on HIV/AIDS, visit http://www.samhsa.gov.
SAMHSA has announced a recent award to support AIDS prevention. Funding totaling $40.4 million over 5 years goes to 27 community organizations across the Nation. These AIDS prevention grants focus on traditionally underserved and at-risk communities. For more information, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/newsroom/advisories/1010145459.aspx.