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Supporting community partners in reducing HIV-related health disparities

The HIV epidemic remains a public health threat in the U.S. More than 1 million people live with HIV and more than 37,000 become infected each year.

A new paper from lead author Daryl Mansoging, a Berkeley Public Health DrPH candidate, looks at how one type of evidence-based prevention and care program can address significant HIV health disparities.

The paper, published in Inquiry: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision, and Financing, evaluates the technical assistance (TA) model used at UCSF’s Prevention Research Center.

The paper defines TA as “the support and assistance that a prevention effort receives from someone or some organization that is not a part of a community team,” or “an individualized and hands-on approach to capacity building in organizations and communities.” UCSF’s TA model employs “an on-demand, responsive model for providing TA, which is available to the general public, free of charge, and with quick turn-around times for service.” Although TA has been shown to be an implementation strategy to help move prevention science into practice, there has been little research on the best frameworks or models for delivering quality TA.

“Technical assistance (TA) is crucial for the uptake of HIV prevention and care programs to address health disparities,” said Mansoging. “But there is no consensus on frameworks or models for delivering quality TA. The UCSF Prevention Research Center’s (UCSF PRC) model of TA provision based on a spectrum of intensity could serve as an alternative for public health academic centers conducting health equity research.”

The research found that UCSF’s TA services were successful and “met a wide breadth of needs across a spectrum of intensity and level of touch through either short-term (time-sensitive) or long-term (time-intensive), serving multiple topics and audiences and helping recipients address HIV-related health disparities in their communities.”

The UCSF TA model “breaks the mold in the public health context by expanding our definition of TA beyond EBIs (evidence-based interventions), funder requirements, or geographical boundaries to provide a wide breadth of services to support: (1) research (support throughout different phases of the research process), (2) communication (input for designing promotional materials and leveraging communication channels), (3) dissemination (sharing research findings to wider community audiences), and (4) training and mentoring (guiding and equipping individuals with necessary knowledge and skills),” Mangosing and his co-authors wrote.

Mangosing hopes that this work will lead to academic centers supporting public health and health disparities research “implementing and evaluating models of TA that reflect their capacity and clients’ needs, while remaining creative in how they conceptualize and deliver TA services.”

Coauthors of the study are Gertrude Kumalo-Sakutukwa, Beth Bourdeau, Greg Rebchook, Marguerita Lightfoot, and Janet J. Myers, all of UCSF.