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Horizon’s goal has always been to get young people in care as quickly as possible, according to Angulique Outlaw, director of prevention/outreach services and an assistant professor at the Wayne State University School of Medicine. “It isn’t easy,” she says. Many of the youth that come through the doors at Horizons don’t have a support system of family and friends in their corner. Many of the youth they work with come from challenging living and family situations. “Often we have to help them tell their parents that they are HIV-positive,” Outlaw says.

This is yet another hallmark of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program: the effort to work with youth in a holistic way, including connecting them with a multidisciplinary team of doctors, social workers, and advocates. Horizons and other Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grantees that work with youth view transportation and transitioning of adolescents into adult health care as a key part of breaking down the barriers to care. Horizons offers transportation assistance as well as a bridge program designed to help patients into an adult care program.

Next Step’s One Love Project, a Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program subgrantee in Cambridge, MA, also works to ensure that youth have access to services related to their needs. The program empowers young PLWH, encouraging them to develop important life skills and to participate in youth-led, peer support, and leadership programs. Specific interventions are designed with the input of a Youth Task Force composed of 10 HIV-positive young people and a broad partnership among several New England-based medical institutions and social service agencies. This practice of listening and then acting on what consumers have to say contributes greatly to the success of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program.

In 2003, HRSA/HAB funded the Connecting to Care: Addressing Unmet Need in HIV Workbook (PDF – 3.0 MB). Exit Disclaimer The document outlined outreach and linkage best practices and included a section (PDF – 106 KB). Exit Disclaimer on teen peer outreach.

In 2012, HRSA/HAB conducted an evaluation in order to understand how many Part D grantees treated both adults and the youth population; 98 programs were identified. Increasing access to care for youth and removing generational barriers have always been important goals for Ryan White-funded grantees who offer care and services to youth in their communities. This goal is reflected in the administration’s fiscal year 2015 budget plan, which includes a proposal to incorporate the Part D program into Part C.

Evidenced-based Care

Addressing the special needs of adolescents is a priority not only for HRSA, but also for HHS at large. In 2011, HHS’s Office of Adolescent Health launched the National Resource Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention among Adolescents to help youth-serving agencies and professionals implement evidence-based prevention programs.

The Resource Center Exit Disclaimer provides a central, online location to access training, technical assistance, information exchange, and a resource library. The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (now part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey) developed and operates the Center. Interestingly, Rutgers also operates HRSA’s AIDS Education and Training Center (AETC) National Resource Center Exit Disclaimer. This dual funding enables Rutgers to share pertinent information and training specifically targeting providers who treat the youth population.

HRSA’s network of national and regional AETCs is another important resource for HIV care providers. Established in 1987, the AETCs are the training arm of the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. Through the AETCs, leading HIV experts provide locally based, tailored education, clinical consultation, and technical assistance for providers seeking new and innovative ways to build their capacity to engage PLWH, including the youth population, in care.

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