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announces long-term plan to fight HIV

announces long-term plan to fight HIV

Last week the state of Virginia announced a three-year strategy to address racial disparities, language barriers, and cultural barriers to HIV health care services utilization. According to the Statewide Comprehensive Plan for HIV Services, officials will join with ethnic and faith-based organizations to extend treatment to underserved populations and work to ensure culturally sensitive service provision. Services targeting minority communities, specifically those at higher risk for HIV, are of particular concern.

"The [minority] concern has been apparent to people addressing HIV issues for a long time," said Diana Jordan, health care service director. "In this plan, our intent is to take a more tangible approach."

The department also hopes to ensure that non-English-speaking patients can access treatment, an issue brought to light in public forums held last fall. "What we did hear is that there aren't necessarily enough providers that have Spanish-speaking capability," Jordan said, "or that are used to serving populations with special needs," including the homeless, released prisoners, and transgender people.

"They report that sometimes providers are uncomfortable discussing their sexual behaviors," Jordan said. As a consequence, some high-risk communities may miss out on prevention messages.

Virginia plans to count non-English-speaking HIV patients, boost recruitment of multilingual care providers, and create a directory of multilingual services. Officials will also survey state-funded providers' cultural competence and develop a training program about prejudices. (AP)

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