REPORTS

When We Know Better, We Do Better

"So many loved friends are dead because of AIDS.
My mind just runs over the list which seems to be unending."
—Maya Angelou

We have the tools to end the epidemic in America. The scientific evidence is now clear. Or is it?

This study by the Black AIDS Institute in partnership with Janssen Therapeutics, the Latino Commission on AIDS, the National Association of State and Territorial AIDS Directors, Johns Hopkins University, and the CDC suggests there may be a missing link.

Nearly two decades after Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) emerged and two years after the development of Treatment as Prevention and FDA approval of Pre-exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP), prevention efforts in the United States remain stalled. There remain around 50,000 new infections a year, nearly half of them Black and almost two-thirds of them, gay and bisexual men. In addition, less than 30% of the estimated 1.5 million Americans living with HIV are virally suppressed.

From 2012 thru 2014, the Institute and its partners conducted the first national assessment of the treatment and science knowledge of the nonmedical HIV/AIDS workforce. The "U.S. HIV Workforce Knowledge Survey" included over 3600 participants from 48 states, Washington D.C., and U.S. territories. The study revealed that the HIV science and treatment literacy of the HIV/AIDS workforce is frighteningly low.

"All the biomedical and scientific breakthroughs in the world aren't worth anything, if people working in the HIV field don't understand them, believe in them, and know how to use them," says Phill Wilson, President and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute. "This study shows that we are leaving our most valuable resource behind. We have a large infrastructure of passionate, committed and capable people working in AIDS service organizations, community-based organizations, clinical settings and health departments ready to get the job done. But, they can't do it unless they have the familiarity, knowledge and skills needed to use these new tools."

The late Dr. Maya Angelou said, "When we know better, we do better." The report looks at what the HIV/AIDS workforce needs to know to do better and makes bold recommendations on how to address the problem.

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