Tuesday, October 20

Columbus Seeks Input on HIV Strategic Plan

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by Ken Schneck, Editor

The Central Ohio Ending the HIV Epidemic Advisory Committee will be hosting a virtual stakeholder meeting on Thursday, July 30 at 6pm.

People who are living with HIV or have seen firsthand how HIV has impacted communities and people they know and love are specifically encouraged to participate. Feedback from participants will be used to create a strategic plan to fight new HIV infections in the central Ohio community, including prioritization of HIV services and resources in Columbus.

“This is the big shebang when it comes to the Ending the HIV Epidemic money that’s coming from the government,” explains Dwayne Steward, Director of Prevention at Equitas Health and a member of the Central Ohio Ending the HIV Epidemic Advisory Committee. “The piece that has always been missing historically is the people who are most affected being a part of the decision-making process. Now we can tell the government how this money should be spent.”

The feedback session this Thursday is the second of two sessions this month, with more targeted conversations on the way.

“These won’t be the only times people will be able to give their voice.,” says Steward. “We’ll do several others that are geared towards specific communities like trans communities, trans communities of color, general LGBTQ people of color.”

The information from all of these sessions will be put together by Columbus Public Health and then used for allocation decisions.

“For instance, if it is decided that more people need help with behavioral or mental health,  that info will be used to increase the dollars to get that specific care covered,” explains Steward.

This all comes at a time when HIV rates have reached a plateau, but are certainly not at zero.

“We’re stagnant when it comes to HIV, not only in Columbus but across the country,” says Steward. “A lot of great work has gotten us to this point where the numbers have decreased. But now it’s about getting the number to zero with no new infections and finally coming to the end of this epidemic ravaging our community.”

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