On Saturday, April 18, 2015, at the National Transgender Health Summit in Oakland, CA, I attended a wonderful breakout session done by Howard Brown and Friends Community Center: “A Novel Approach for Linking and Retaining HIV-Infected Transgender Women of Color into HIV Medical Care” (Cathy J. Reback, PhD; Jesse B. Fletcher, PhD; Kimberly A. Kisler, PhD; Kiesha McCurtis, MPH).
I learned many things from these two amazing groups. This is from the Howard Brown presentation:
For transgender people, hormones, case management, and HIV prevention or care must go together. It is critical to build relationships through care. Hire staff from the trans community- “nothing for us, without us!”
Branding is very important because the trans community is lacking in trust, their family may have put them out, they may not be able to trust their friends, so it’s crucial to be consistent.
Inclusive medical records are crucial because, obviously:
“Trans people don’t want to go to a clinic where their name is Maria but they get called Jose.”
The second part of the presentation was about The Alexis Project :
“The Alexis Project employs a multi-tiered, comprehensive approach, which includes network, individual and structural components to identify, recruit, test, link, treat and retain transwomen of color into HIV care. The Alexis Project incorporates three proven models, Social Network Recruitment (network), Peer Health Navigation (individual) and Contingency Management (structural), into one multi-leveled project to optimize HIV health outcomes for transwomen of color. Through Social Network Recruitment, local transwomen recruit transwomen of color from their social, sexual and/or drug-using networks into the project for either testing (HIV unknown status) or (for those who are aware of their HIV infection but not in care) to the combined Peer Health Navigation and Contingency Management intervention. Participants may also be referred to the project through collaborating agencies or through street- and venue-based outreach. A Peer Health Navigator works with each participant to link and retain her in HIV care services and to identify other needed services. In addition, Contingency Management provides increasing valuable incentives (in the form of gift cards) for attending HIV medical visits and reaching and sustaining HIV medical milestones.
The Alexis Project was named after Alexis Rivera who died on March 28, 2012, at the age of 34, from complications related to HIV. Alexis was a proud Latina transwoman, a community activist, a peer advocate and a gatekeeper.” (friendscommunitycenter.org)
At the breakout session, I was truly impressed by the amazing and lovely peer navigators, Miranda Ramirez and Angelina Alamilla, who spoke about the importance of their roles, and how they really support their clients every step of the way, from going to the DMV and helping them to get identification to going to medical appointments and advocating for their rights.
These are some of the slides from the presentation: