The Ending the HIV Epidemic (EHE): A Plan for America is an initiative launched by the federal government as a collaborative effort to address the HIV epidemic in the United States. Announced in February 2019, the goal of this initiative is to direct support to the cities, counties, states, and rural regions most impacted by HIV within the United States (U.S.) and U.S. territories. The EHE initiative aims to reduce new HIV infections by 75% in five years and 90% in 10 years. This goal will be achieved by focusing on innovative and comprehensive efforts around four areas or "pillars":
DIAGNOSE all people with HIV as early as possible.
TREAT people with HIV rapidly and effectively to reach sustained viral suppression.
PREVENT new HIV transmissions using proven interventions, including pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and syringe services programs (SSPs).
RESPOND quickly to potential HIV outbreaks to get needed prevention and treatment services to people who need them.
In 2020 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded NASTAD using supplemental funding to support and increase capacity for EHE community engagement efforts by EHE Southern jurisdictions. As an existing CDC-funded Capacity Building Assistance (CBA) provider in the South, NASTAD is well-positioned to connect with and assist Southern health departments and partners. Through this initiative, the primary goals included:
- Identifying and engaging new and/or nontraditional local partners,
- Facilitating local partners’ understanding of and participation in the development and implementation of EHE plans, and
- Leveraging existing local partnerships in new and/or nontraditional ways for EHE plans.
To end HIV, state and local health departments need to understand how HIV affects their local communities. An effective way to gather that information and understanding is to engage with community individuals and groups, and partner with community leaders and organizations. They often are tapped into resources and knowledge that can inform programming and activities that benefit community well-being.
Within HIV prevention and care, we categorize this as community engagement.
As health departments and jurisdictions work to execute and update EHE plans, community engagement is crucial to the development and implementation of the plans. Community engagement addresses a need in the community, improves people's health, empowers those who lack power to gain control over their health, enhance relationship and trust building, and connects people to services or programming. Many community engagement principles involve communication, relationship-building, and commitment. Within EHE, community engagement should be continuous throughout the development of the plan and beyond, meaning it is not a one-time survey or listening session and doesn’t end once an initiative ends. However, community engagement isn’t stagnant; it should evolve with and adapt to community needs and focus.
How can community engagement happen?
- Collaborate with existing community partners by welcoming their expertise and lived experiences.
- Invite new and nontraditional (e.g., community business districts, college student groups, local artists, local entrepreneurs, etc.) voices to the table.
- Build trust through honest and transparent communication about intended goals, efforts, and activities within EHE planning and implementation (or any other initiative).
- Ask for input and information from community partners and incorporate it into the work.
Ending the HIV Epidemic Southern Jurisdictions
- Florida: Broward County, Duval County, Hillsborough County, Miami-Dade County, Orange County, Palm Beach County, Pinellas County
- Georgia: Cobb County, DeKalb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County
- Louisiana: East Baton Rouge Parish, Orleans Parish
- Maryland: Baltimore City, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County
- North Carolina: Mecklenburg County
- Tennessee: Shelby County
- Texas: Bexar County, Dallas County, Harris County, Tarrant County, Travis County
- Washington, DC
- South Carolina
- CommuniTEA: A Look from the Inside
- Conversations from the CommuniTEA Video Series
- Effectively Engaging Community in the Ending the HIV Epidemic Process Through Digital Technology
- Revisioning Community Engagement: A Practical Toolkit to Empower HIV Prevention Efforts with Marginalized Communities
- Social Determinants of Health Series: Community Development Highlights