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Regional program supports women in HIV prevention and family planning

March 19, 2015

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Too few women living in communities with high rates of HIV receive essential HIV prevention and pregnancy planning information and services. Consequently, both HIV-positive women and HIV-negative women with positive partners are unaware of new prevention strategies that help them stay healthy, reduce HIV transmission and enable safer conception and delivery of HIV-negative babies.

The Midwest HIV Pregnancy Planning and Prevention Initiative (MHPPPI) aims to reverse that trend by increasing knowledge about HIV prevention and pregnancy planning for HIV-impacted communities  through outreach to women’s health care providers and members of the HIV workforce.

“We’re confident that MHPPPI will amplify the conversation around HIV prevention for women and help provide more robust pregnancy planning tools for HIV-positive women and couples,” said Jessica Terlikowski, project leader for MHPPPI on behalf of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC).

AFC leads this multiyear project with support from partner organizations EverThrive Illinois, Midwest AIDS Training + Education Center (MATEC), Pediatric AIDS Chicago Prevention Initiative (PACPI), and Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL). Funding for MHPPPI is provided through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Mobilization for Health: National Prevention Partnership Award Program.

 “We are so pleased that AFC has created this opportunity to combine resources in our region to address this issue,” said Courtney Chambers of MATEC. “As the AIDS Education and Training Center in the Midwest region for over 27 years, MATEC brings a wealth of expertise in providing quality HIV education to clinicians and other health professionals and a well-established network of clinical expertise in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Wisconsin.”

The project has two distinct aims: First, MHPPPI will enable health care providers to better prevent new HIV infections among women by educating them about the spectrum of prevention tools. MHPPPI trainers and educators will place an emphasis on pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a once-a-day pill regimen for HIV-negative people to protect themselves against HIV, post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), and female condoms.

The project will also equip providers to support people planning pregnancies when one or both partners is HIV-positive. Information about options that can prevent HIV transmission between couples and the newborn (such as antiretroviral medications) will enable health care providers to better counsel and serve couples through their pregnancy planning process.

“Since the 1990s, there has been a significant decline in perinatal transmissions of HIV in the U.S.,” said Anne Statton, PACPI executive director. “There are fewer than 200 cases of perinatal HIV transmission diagnosed annually in the U.S. and we aim to reduce that number even further through increased awareness among health care providers and their patients.”

MHPPPI will disseminate information and deliver interactive trainings to almost 2,000 providers across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. The project will reinforce training through email campaigns, social media and other communication tools. The training curriculum will target providers who serve women who are disproportionately affected by HIV: women of color (who comprise nearly 80% of the total population of HIV-positive women in the U.S.) and women who are low-income, formerly incarcerated and/or unstably housed. Educational tools will also emphasize access to care through provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

Work for MHPPPI is well underway: The partner organizations have prepared a survey for distribution throughout the Midwest to gather information about providers’ current strategies and knowledge about HIV prevention for women and pregnancy planning for serodiscordant couples.

“Understanding Midwestern providers’ knowledge and practices will enable us to develop tailored curricula that enhance their efforts to deliver high-quality services and meet the reproductive health needs and desires of the communities they serve,” said Terlikowski.

Categorized under AFC news, Inside Story and Prevention.

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