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En Español Newsroom
Ed. note: This was originally published on the White House Blog. See the original post at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/10/10/improving-fight-against-intersecting-epidemics.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and an important time to draw attention to the alarming prevalence of intimate partner violence (IPV) among women and girls. This is particularly true for women living with HIV, over half of whom have experienced IPV in their lifetime. An HIV diagnosis can trigger or exacerbate violence, while trauma and abuse can negatively impact management of this illness. Thus, for women and girls affected by the intersecting epidemics of HIV/AIDS and IPV, the consequences for their health and well-being can be devastating.
As physicians who care for women, we see this intersection among our patients all too often; and, both data and experience have shown that women and girls of color are often disproportionately affected. Addressing the violence in our patients’ lives is therefore a critical part of supporting them to achieve optimal health outcomes, including improving their ability to adhere to treatment, achieve viral suppression, and live longer and fuller lives.
In an effort to respond to these complex problems, last year the Interagency Federal Working Group established in 2012 under President Obama’s memorandum released a report titled Addressing the Intersection of HIV/AIDS, Violence against Women and Girls, and Gender–Related Health Disparities. The report outlined five major recommendations and emphasized the need for cross-agency collaboration to better address how violence against women and girls influences HIV acquisition and negatively affects the health of women living with HIV.
Today, we are proud to announce two major accomplishments stemming from this report. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) program have provided an outstanding example of Federal interagency collaboration. This joint effort will specifically allocate funding and resources to support transitional housing for women living with HIV, and who are experiencing violence in their lives. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is also releasing a Trauma-Informed Approaches concept paper that identifies a new framework to address trauma experiences and victimization. This framework aims to help individuals, like women living with HIV, to modify negative behaviors resulting from trauma and ultimately improve health outcomes.
In addition, the Office of National AIDS Policy, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President and Council on Women and Girls, is releasing a report today with the first annual update on activities taking place across the Federal government in response to these recommendations. Dozens of important cross-agency advances have occurred over the last year in the form of critical dialogue, resource sharing, coordination among agencies, and engagement with community partners. With strategic next steps and a call for continued action and momentum, the report also offers a blueprint for the year to come.
First, screening for HIV and IPV throughout Federal programs is now a greater priority. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are providing integrated training in HIV/IPV screening to their prevention workforce. HRSA is also collaborating with the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to provide HIV/IPV counseling tools to Ryan White, rural health, maternal and child health, and National Health Service Corps programs. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is promoting screening for HIV for all women veterans, and IPV screening pilots in VA facilities are to begin in the next year.
Federal agencies have also focused on enhancing public outreach, especially to more marginalized communities. Futures Without Violence, a community partner, has educated DOJ’s Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) consolidated youth grantees on the intersection of violence and HIV through webinars and educational materials. Moreover, ACF is developing resources on HIV/IPV to assist reproductive health providers in improving prevention, testing, counseling, and safe partner notification for their patients.
Engaging men and boys is another critical strategy highlighted in the update. ACF and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health are collaborating to support the development of resources for domestic violence and HIV providers to assist Black and Latino men and women recently discharged from correctional and inpatient substance abuse treatment programs. Futures Without Violence is also working with OVW on engaging grantees to focus on interventions that involve men.
Finally, the report stresses the importance of continued scientific investigation, community engagement, and partnership to achieve the goals of the initiative. The CDC and National Institutes of Health are both conducting research on HIV/IPV epidemiology and interventions. Another partner, AIDS United, recently hosted a Technical Summit that gathered researchers, local leaders, and activists to generate community recommendations to address trauma among women living with HIV.
The 2014 update demonstrates promising trends and marks the first step toward addressing the needs of women confronted with HIV/AIDS and IPV. In the next year, we look forward to Federal agencies and community partners continuing this momentum. By scaling up effective strategies, incorporating trauma-informed approaches, and expanding outreach to high-risk groups, the Interagency Federal Working Group hopes to witness both individual and broad societal-level impact — and to sustain that impact for the women and girls counting on us.
Violence is one of the most urgent public health problems we face in America. Its tragic consequences run deep and have an especially profound impact on
minority youth and young minority men.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4,700 young people ages 10 to 24 were
victims of homicide in 2011 -- an average of 13 each day. In this age group, homicide is the leading cause of death for African Americans, the second
leading cause of death for Hispanics, and the third leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Natives.
The CDC also reminds us of the social costs and economic burden of homicides and violent crimes. Youth who are victims of violence also have a higher risk
for many other poor physical and mental health problems, including smoking, obesity, high-risk sexual behavior, asthma, depression, academic problems and
suicide. Additionally, each year, youth homicides and nonfatal assault injuries result in an estimated $17.5 billion in combined medical and lost
A 2014 article in the Journal for Crime and Delinquency also reported that half of African American men have been arrested at least once by age 23.
Overall, African American men were 6 times and Hispanic men were 2.5 times more likely to be imprisoned than White men in 2012.
In support of efforts across the nation aimed at addressing violence, we are leading a new collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services (HHS) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), through the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) and the DOJ Office of Community Oriented
Policing Services (COPS Office).
OMH and the COPS Office have come together to announce the Minority Youth Violence Prevention: Integrating Public Health and Community Policing Approaches
(MYVP) initiative, to engage public health organizations, law enforcement agencies, and community organizers in a new effort to curb violence and reduce
disparities in access to public health for at-risk minority male youth between the ages of 10 and 18. Through MYVP approximately $3 million has been
awarded to nine demonstration sites (a partnership between a public health organization and a law enforcement agency) to help strengthen programs that
combine approaches to community policing and violence prevention within a public health framework. Additional funding of $500,000 is being awarded through
the COPS Office to an organization to provide coordination, technical assistance and evaluation across the demonstration sites.
Through this collaboration, OMH and the COPS Office will bring together public health, law enforcement and community groups to address violence as a public
health issue. This new integrated approach to public health and community policing will also promote stronger linkages for young men in disadvantaged
neighborhoods. It will link them to health and other services that are aimed at addressing social determinants of health - the conditions that impact the
environments in which we live, where we work and where our children play.
Because we know that youth violence is not inevitable – it is, in fact, preventable. Everyone can play a role in preventing youth violence. Joint efforts
such as the MYVP program bring us a step closer to building safer and healthier communities. And when community policing becomes the norm, when crime goes
down and public safety goes up, it is the community that wins.
For additional information about the MYVP initiative and grantees visit: www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov and www.cops.usdoj.gov.
Earlier this year, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), in coordination with Payu-ta Inc. (an umbrella organization of non-governmental organizations in the Pacific region), held its first Community Tour and Regional Summit outside the contiguous U.S. at Guam Community College, where I serve as President and Chief Executive Officer. During this convening, community leaders shared stories of their respective struggles and challenges, while federal representatives highlighted programs and technical assistance to address the community’s needs.
We are proud to have convened 200 community leaders and 25 federal officials from agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Small Business Administration, and the Departments of Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, and Veterans Affairs. Federal representatives heard community recommendations regarding next steps on topics such as housing, veterans issues, economic development, education, and health equity, and vowed to tackle those issues upon return to Washington, D.C. and their respective regional offices.
To ensure follow-up on the recommendations from the Guam Regional Summit, today, WHIAAPI, in collaboration with the Office of Insular Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Interior, is launching a Pacific Island Task Force comprised of officials from the agencies represented at the Summit and members of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs. The Task Force will function for at least one year with the goals of engaging agency officials around the specific needs of Pacific Islanders in order to increase opportunity and access to federal programs, developing capacity building and technical assistance support for non-governmental organizations in the Pacific region, and promoting data disaggregation and generation with federal partners.
The Task Force will issue a comprehensive report regarding their findings next year. The framework of the Task Force will mirror the existing infrastructure of the Initiative’s Regional Interagency Working Group (RIWG), with the goal of promoting effective coordination and engagement efforts across federal offices.
This Task Force and its focus on non-governmental organizations in the region marks a new stepping stone for the Pacific region. This is part of the Obama administration’s ongoing efforts to ensure that the voices, experiences, and challenges of Pacific Islanders are recognized and addressed.
Dr. Mary Ann Young Okada is Vice Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Across the country, communities of color are mobilizing for a stronger, healthier future, and advancing health equity for all by tackling one of the most
significant drivers of disparities in health – access to insurance coverage. At the center of that movement are the many organizations and advocates
working tirelessly to connect minority individuals and their families with opportunities to attain affordable health coverage made possible by the
Affordable Care Act.
As our nation gears up for the next health care open enrollment period this fall, 13 organizations will be further empowered to expand outreach to minority
uninsured people from grant awards totaling $3.2 million through the U.S Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health Partnerships to
Increase Coverage in Communities (PICC) Initiative. The PICC Initiative will provide grant awards to increase health insurance enrollment of racial and
These 13 organizations
will work to engage underserved communities and empower them with actionable information through partnerships with minority media, training for faith
leaders, hosting culturally and linguistically appropriate workshops and leveraging social media; where many people of color frequently turn to get and
share information. The innovative approaches of these organizations, which will include in-person assistance, are breaking down barriers that stand between
minorities and opportunities for reaching their best health.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more minorities have access to affordable, quality health care coverage, but gaps still exist. Those gaps underscore the
need to support increased health insurance enrollment for communities of color. We learned from the first open enrollment period in the Marketplace that to
reach minority people, outreach and education must be tailored to these communities.
Through the Affordable Care Act, the Health Insurance Marketplace is a gateway for closing health inequities for underserved and low-income people in our
country. Programs funded through the PICC Initiative can serve as critical links for connecting those most in need to access points for quality coverage
and care. These 13 organizations are poised to serve as vital partners in our efforts to reduce health disparities and achieve health equity for all
For additional information about the PICC Initiative and grant awardees, contact the OMH Press Office at: OMHMedia@hhs.gov.
Reposted from Health IT Buzz blog
During National Minority Health Month, we acknowledge the potential for health information technology (health IT) – from electronic and personal health
records to online communities to mobile applications – to transform health care and improve the health of racial and ethnic minorities. Lack of access to
quality, preventive health care, cultural and linguistic barriers, and limited patient-provider communication are factors that aggravate health
disparities. By increasing our investment in health IT policies and standards, we can help improve the quality of health care delivery and make it easier
for patients and providers to communicate with each other – a huge step toward addressing the persistence of health disparities.
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project
found in 2012 that African Americans and Latinos are more likely to own a mobile phone than whites and outpace whites in mobile app use, using their phones
for a wider range of activities. The study showed that African Americans and Latinos use their mobile phones more often to look for health information
online. This has very important implications for personal management of health and interaction with the health care system. However, barriers to widespread
adoption of health IT remain. For example, a 2014 consumer engagement report found that minorities were less likely to adopt online patient portals to
access their health information than were non-Hispanic whites. Additionally, limited financial capital and lack of systems that can communicate effectively
with each other widen the digital divide between providers and other clinicians who provide health services to a significant number of minority
At the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) and the HHS Office of Minority Health
(OMH) are committed to reducing technology gaps across and between communities of color as a key action of the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and
ensuring that the new electronic tools can support access to quality care and promote equity for everyone. This includes a targeted strategy focused on
four core areas:
1. Adoption of health IT in all communities;
2. Improving patient care by creating culturally and linguistically appropriate eHealth tools;
3. Facilitating secure exchange and confidentiality of patient data; and
4. Patient-centered consumer engagement.
Last year, ONC, OMH and ZeroDivide convened a diverse group of stakeholders at the White House to discuss how to advance eHealth among the underserved and
the role eHealth can play in achieving health equity. The discussion generated many ideas about increasing patient engagement using eHealth, identified
opportunities to work collaboratively, and committed participants to taking action following the meeting. The White House Summit on Achieving eHealth
Equity was followed by a webinar during which participants continued the dialogue and proposed specific action steps that are included in the briefing
In 2009, HHS enacted the Health Information Technology and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which laid the foundation and groundwork for health IT adoption
efforts for many healthcare professionals across the United States. Today, more than 70 percent of physicians and other healthcare clinicians practicing in
medically underserved and health professional shortage areas are engaged in efforts to adopt health IT, thanks to the work of the Regional Extension Center program. Adoption of technology is also
laying the foundation for communities to participate in and test out new payment models for care:
Health IT is already helping to improve chronic disease management and care coordination for health care providers and their patients, allowing the
development of targeted strategies focused on reducing chronic disease and other health issues that disproportionately impact communities of color.
It also has implications for prevention efforts. For example,
heart disease is the leading cause of death
across most racial and ethnic minority populations, accounting for 25 percent of all deaths, but many of the major risk factors for heart disease and
stroke, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking and obesity are preventable. The Millions Hearts Initiative is a national effort to prevent
one million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. This public-private partnership brings together communities, health systems, nonprofit organizations,
federal agencies and private-sector partners from across the country to fight heart disease and stroke. At ONC, Health IT Fellows – physicians and staff
who are using health IT as part of their everyday practice—are looking for specific ways to align the Million Hearts Initiative with technical assistance
and provider outreach programs with the goal of increasing the number of healthcare professionals using technology to detect and control hypertension and
other innovative strategies to engage in patient-centered care.
Through the interoperability and standards work at ONC, we are making sure patient information is secure and universally accessible to those who are
authorized to see it when they need it. Making sure the appropriate technical standards and specifications are in place is critical to establishing a fully
functional nationwide health IT ecosystem. Ensuring that providers have the right information about the right patient at the right time is essential to
advancing overall quality of care for everyone and improving health outcomes for the underserved.
Early experiences with health IT adoption demonstrate that
technology can lower costs
by improving transition of care processes and enhancing a health care professional’s ability to serve their patients with precision, especially for
minority communities. Hurricane Katrina is an example of this. The
use of mobile technology helped to meet the health needs of the community members
, especially minorities, as 75 percent of those affected by Katrina had access to a cell phone.
As we continue to push a national agenda to transform health care and advance health equity, we encourage communities and advocates to join the discussion.
For a list of current initiatives and opportunities to engage with HHS around health IT and health care transformation, visit www.healthit.gov. To learn more about National Minority Health Month and what HHS is doing to reduce health
disparities and to achieve health equity, visit www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov.
Prevention is Power!