Merging Prevention and Care Planning Groups

HIV planning groups are responsible for overseeing the planning and implementation of HIV prevention and care activities within communities. Historically, prevention and care programs have operated separate planning groups. Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) Part A and Part B recipients and CDC-funded prevention jurisdictions have conducted parallel planning activities, sometimes with little collaboration or coordination. As a way to reduce duplicative planning activities and streamline the work of planning groups, a number of jurisdictions have begun to incorporate integrated planning activities into their work.

There are a number of different activities a planning group can undertake, ranging from information sharing activities between prevention and care planning groups to merging prevention and care planning groups into one decision-making body. A description of various types of integrated planning activities can be found in Examples of Collaborative Integrated Prevention and Care Planning Activities.

There are many options available to planning groups but there is no ‘correct’ model that is recommended for each jurisdiction. What works for a jurisdiction will depend on its size, staffing structure, funding sources, and resources. Regardless of shape or form, the ultimate goal of integrated planning is to increase capacity to develop and implement a coordinated, integrated response to prevention and treatment needs in a community.

In some jurisdictions, a fully merged planning body may be a promising option to pursue. For jurisdictions considering this option, below are promising practices and tips to ensure a smooth integration of prevention and care planning groups.

Promising Practices and Tips:

  • Do not rush the integration process. The process of merging HIV planning groups should not be hastily done and will require a substantial commitment of time from those in leadership positions who will be facilitating the merger. To help ease the transitions throughout the process, planning groups should establish a joint workgroup to collaboratively plan for the merger and a ‘transition team’ to oversee the merger once it begins. Individuals in charge of coordinating these pre-merger meetings should ensure equal representation of stakeholders from existing groups and structure the meetings so that everyone involved is allowed to meaningfully participate. If feasible, planning groups may seek and engage a third party (e.g., external consultant) to facilitate this process.
  • Cultivate trust and collaboration between groups. The success of an integrated planning group is dependent upon the ability of its members to establish a shared vision and collaborate productively to achieve its goals. To establish trust between groups, it is important that all individuals involved in the merging process fully understand the rationale and goals of integrating planning groups and feel empowered to be an active participant in the process. Active participation among members will help eliminate any misconceptions or preconceived notions planning groups might have of one another, or the purpose of a merged planning group.
  • Ensure all HRSA and CDC mandated activities are achievable in the new structure. Care and prevention groups both have a number of activities required by HRSA and CDC. During the integration process, it is important to identify all mandated activities, including legislative requirements, and determine whether these need to take place at the full planning group level, standing committee level, or ad hoc level. In doing so, the joint planning group can be structured in a way that allows for all mandated activities to successfully take place.

Tools and Resources

  • Integrated Planning Activities for Prevention and Care: Best Practices and Lessons Learned
    This webinar described various models of planning body collaboration or integration that jurisdictions can pursue, as well as discussion of the benefits and potential challenges associated with integrated planning activities. Presenters from Memphis, TN and San Francisco, CA describe their jurisdictions’ efforts to integrate planning activities of prevention and care, and discuss lessons learned and promising practices.
  • Developing a Unified HIV Prevention and Care Planning Body: Lessons from the Los Angeles Eligible Metropolitan Area (EMA
    EGM Consulting, LLC
    This summary is designed to help RWHAP Part A programs and CDC-funded prevention programs develop unified planning bodies by sharing the initial process and experience of the Los Angeles County EMA.
  • San Francisco Experience—Integrating Care and Prevention Councils
    San Francisco Department of Public Health
    Slide deck presented by the San Francisco Department of Public Health detailing their experience of merging their prevention and care councils. This presentation describes the essential components of merging, including what jurisdictions need to do to prepare, and the importance of acknowledging differences, similarities, fears, and opportunities.