The International AIDS Conference has come and it’s gone.
It was as intense as I thought it would be. Yet, organizationally Community Education Group had some unique opportunities including a visit from U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
We were particularly honored when Secretary Sebelius mentioned our program during her remarks in the Conference’s Opening Session. It is always a good feeling to know that your work is making a difference in the community.
But despite the public recognition, I’ve been thinking that when it comes to linkage to care, we could do so much more. It’s true that CEG has experienced tremendous success, linking 95 percent of clients who test positive to care. But we must do more to apply this model of success to other health disparities.
It’s time that HIV/AIDS organizations -- specifically those that are non-clinical providers -- really begin to think about how we can serve the whole person and the whole community. The end of the epidemic is in sight, but it certainly isn’t here. Yet we have some very unique skillsets, tools and access to communities to be able to do more with regard to other health disparities, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While we’re routinizing HIV testing, we can also make sure people know their HDL and LDL cholesterol levels. Likewise, if we know that smoking contributes to heart disease, we can link members of the community to smoking cessation programs and help to reduce community incidences of heart failure.
At AIDS 2012, we celebrated how far we’ve come in the prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS. And yes, we are closer to the end of the epidemic than we’ve ever been before.
But now that we know better, we must do better.
A. Toni Young
Community Education Group