Ending the HIV Epidemic: One Southern Community Speaks


Memphis, Tennessee and its surrounding counties have been profoundly affected by the HIV epidemic. Using a participatory research approach this study identified from a community perspective: 1) the barriers and facilitators for providing support to achieve viral suppression to the most at-risk groups living with HIV in the Memphis Transitional Grant Area and 2) opportunities to strengthen the health care system through the use of community health workers (CHWs) to do outreach and engage with people living with HIV. Themes of barriers include intersectional stigma, HIV criminal laws, abstinence-only sex education, housing, transportation, and limited access to HIV case management and mental health services. Strategies to address these barriers included HIV education to youth in schools and community-wide campaigns, more testing sites, involving faith leaders, funding for housing options, innovative transportation services, rapid start of culturally appropriate HIV medical treatment, intensive case management services, and mental health counseling. Two opportunities to utilize CHWs to address the barriers identified in this geographic area are as policy advocates and as an integrated member of the HIV primary care team. The findings of this study can inform a strategy to build the CHW workforce which may have widespread implications for ending the HIV epidemic in this geographic area and across the United States.

Publication Title

Social Work in Public Health