HIV can create significant uncertainty for those infected, especially those in vulnerable populations, regarding their health, access to treatment and lingering stigma associated with the virus. This affects an array of psychosocial outcomes critical to successfully managing the disease. In 2018, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens began an HIV Peer-led Interventions project aimed at increasing access to testing, educating the community using health literate and culturally appropriate methods and improving care compliance through peer mentorship for HIV patients.
Providing newly diagnosed and noncompliant patients with a peer navigator helps to develop trust in the healthcare system. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that patients will reach viral load suppression. In addition, allowing patients to speak with and develop a relationship with a peer makes healthcare more accessible. Peer mentors are integrated into the community and work closely with community partners such as NYP-Q Performing Provider System, Voces Latinas, AIDS Center Queens County, Brightpoint Health and NYP-Q Special Care Center to fluently navigate patients through the healthcare system. Combining the expertise of the clinical team while engaging with community partners is key to reaching people who would not be accessing healthcare otherwise. Creating a peer navigation program improves viral load suppression and reduce transmission of HIV in NYP-Q’s community.
Since its inception, the HIV Peer Led Interventions program has connected more than 40 HIV-positive patients to care with the assistance of a peer navigator to help guide them through the system. The program has also provided the community more than 800 outreach sessions and 192 health literacy sessions to educate the public and help reduce the stigma of HIV and AIDS. The program is being expanded through the NYP-Q Community Service Plan to patients diagnosed with HIV. The goal of this expansion is to continue to engage patients who are newly diagnosed with HIV, as well as those who may have fallen out of care, to bring them to a state of viral load suppression using the peer model.
For more information, contact Maria D'Urso, RN, MSN, administrative director, community medicine, at (718) 670-2715 or firstname.lastname@example.org.