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. RWHAP Part A and Part B recipients and CDC-funded prevention jurisdictions have conducted parallel planning activities, oftentimes 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 integrated their HIV planning groups. In doing so, communities have increased their capacity to develop and implement a more coordinated, integrated response to prevention and treatment needs in a community.
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 possible, planning groups should seek and engage a third party (e.g., consultant) to facilitate this process, as needed.
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’s 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.