Community Voices

Research Community

In May 2020, DC Health staff held two virtual sessions with 27 members of the research community connected to the District of Columbia Center for AIDS Research (DC CFAR) Ending the HIV Epidemic Scientific Working Group. The entire DC CFAR community was invited, including faculty and researchers from various DC universities, community members, and community stakeholders who are interested in or otherwise connected to HIV research conducted in DC. Participants were asked about emerging research trends in HIV and COVID-19, how these can contribute to ending the HIV epidemic, how DC Health can support research goals, and how the research community can enhance the impact of research in a more applied way.

HIV-Related Emerging Trends and Concerns

  • Long-term survivors – What ending the epidemic means for them.
  • Drug-resistant viruses – Emerging and difficult to treat.
  • Telehealth and telemedicine – Differentiated and disrupted care delivery. How care will be delivered to those most in need.
  • Transgender and nonbinary individuals – How people think about their gender is constantly changing. We need to stay engaged with these conversations and the impact on our work. Think about the intersections of power and oppression.
  • Molecular surveillance and contact tracing issues – Make sure molecular surveillance  and contact tracing are not unintentionally harming the community.
  • New diagnoses – Focus on new diagnoses. This should be more manageable now with fewer new cases.

Emerging Trends and Concerns Related to COVID-19

  • Stigma – The stigma associated with having COVID-19 is similar to that associated with having HIV. DC Health needs to be careful to not actually increase stigma through its responses and attempts to help.
  • Sickle cell anemia – How COVID-19 affects individuals with sickle cell anemia, including protective measures people can take and risk factors.
  • Risk for COVID-19 and HIV – Social determinants put people at risk for both COVID-19 and HIV. Are there similar social determinants and are new ones revealed?
  • Engagement in care – The impact of COVID-19 on engagement in HIV care and who is most likely to be affected.
  • Ageism – Long-term care facilities with residents locked in isolation and stigma.
  • Provider capacity and providing care – Providers are reluctant to provide care, and individuals are reluctant to contact medical services.
  • Molecular surveillance and contact tracing issues – Make sure molecular surveillance  and contact tracing are not unintentionally harming the community.
  • Long-term survivors – Determining the care plan as people age during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Opportunities

  • Conduct community-based participatory research, assuring that the community voice is in all levels and processes.
  • Use telehealth to build people’s trust and expand reach into communities (such as those that do not find clinics or health centers safe during the pandemic).
  • Use telehealth to challenge providers to create new opportunities to communicate interactively and effectively in a culturally flexible way.
  • Identify drug-resistant mutations to keep viral load and new transmissions low.
  • Use research and community members to identify structural barriers to develop appropriate interventions and innovations.
  • Create partnerships for comprehensive multilingual initiatives.
  • Maintain open communication with the community throughout projects.
  • Make sure research is available and accessible to community members as soon as possible so they can benefit from the findings.
  • Share locally endorsed strategies and guidance with local providers.
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