A Peer Driven System of Healthcare Access for People Living with HIV/AIDS

Positive Pathways, an initiative of the Washington AIDS Partnership, in collaboration with the Institute for Public Health Innovation, assists out-of-care HIV-positive African Americans living in the District of Columbia to access HIV medical care, with a particular focus on women and their partners.

Positive Pathways Community Health Workers,
celebrating completion of the Positive Pathways training
Using Trained Peers to Complement Conventional Medical and Outreach Strategies

Positive Pathways has established a network of 13 trained peer Community Health Workers (CHWs) who are placed in clinical and non-clinical settings with the goal of identifying out-of-care HIV-positive individuals. CHWs focus on building peer-based trust and informing individuals about living with HIV, providing personalized assistance to help them enter and navigate service systems, and supporting them throughout the early part of their medical care until they become fully engaged.

Peer CHWs utilize their unique position to address barriers to care that can present challenges for other medical professionals, such as providing trust-based information and education, overcoming denial and stigma, conducting outreach and support deep in the community, taking the time to walk clients through the healthcare system, and helping clients strategize to manage the logistics of caring for oneself in the context of a complicated life.

Working in D.C. Communities with the Highest Need

CHWs hired through the initiative are placed at community, managed care, and medical care providers throughout Wards 5-8, wards that have the highest HIV prevalence in D.C. Host sites include Andromeda Transcultural Health, Blair Underwood Clinic, D.C. Chartered Health Plan, Family & Medical Counseling Service, Institute for Public Health Innovation, Our Place D.C., Unity Health Care, Whitman-Walker Health's Max Robinson Center, and the Women's Collective. CHWs focus their recruitment on African American women and their partners within these wards.

A Partnership for Success

Positive Pathways includes a variety of partners: the Institute for Public Health Innovation (works closely with the Washington AIDS Partnership to coordinate this initiative); CHW sites listed above; University of D.C. Community College; D.C. Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration; District of Columbia Primary Care Association; Mosaica; Providence Health Foundation; and others. The initiative is funded through the AIDS United Access to Care Initiative, supported by a grant from the Social Innovation Fund. Other funders include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, Consumer Health Foundation, D.C. Department of Health's HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration, John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States,
MAC AIDS Fund, and World Bank.