The plenary session featured a panel of community leaders, moderated by HRSA's Special Assistant to the Administrator, Antigone Dempsey, MEd, who began the session by commenting on the three-plus decades of the RWHAP to engage people with lived experience in planning and program development, which is embedded in the RWHAP statute. Dempsey reviewed the HRSA HIV/AIDS Bureau's most recent work to maximize engagement by the development of its Community Engagement Framework, based on five guiding principles: Intentional;Committed;Sustainable;Flexible and Tailored;and Transformational.
*Venita Ray*, Co-Executive Director, Positive Women's Network - USA - turned her attention to empowerment of individuals with HIV after her 2003 diagnosis.
*Steven Vargas*, HIV Advocate and Long-Term Survivor (27 years), is a Trainer on the HRSA-funded BLOC (Building Leaders of Color) en Español project.
*Clover Barnes*, MBA, BSN, RN, Senior Deputy Director, District of Columbia Health Department works to coordinate community engagement on HIV issues for the city health department.
*Ronald Johnson*, Chair, U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus who was diagnosed with HIV in 1989.
*Question 1: What inspired your growth as a leader? (07:39)*
Being in a supportive environment with other people with HIV;taking part in leadership training;starting out as a volunteer and seeing the impact of AIDS on people's lives and seeking to provide a greater, and equal, voice for Black and Latino gay men with HIV;the variable influence of clients and staff and others;being open to new perspectives and being accountable for one's openness;and being there to fill gaps with the voices of people with HIV.
*Question 2: What is essential in supporting and investing in community engagement—money, time, and roles? (21:28)*
Making sure you are going into the communities where people with HIV live;being realistic about what one can do as over-committing can damage trust;ensuring continuous engagement versus one-time efforts;providing support (financial and otherwise) that helps people fully participate;being cognizant of what will both support and/or create challenges and involving consumers in the design of engagement efforts in order to anticipate these needs.
*Question 3: How do we bring together diverse voices, including the newly diagnosed? (37:04)*
Investing in communicating/reaching out to various communities;finding the leaders and connecting with them;putting time into building relationships and trust by seeing what is going on in the community and listening;letting clients know they can bring others into the fold and then being ready to support newcomers;and tapping into the varied interests and needs of diverse audiences (from social settings to being involved in programming in employed positions)
*Question 4: How is trust established and sustained? (43:45)*
Following up when you say you are going to do something, from providing information to making opportunities available;treating trust as something you build along a continuum;presenting ideas but making clear that a program is being built with community input;communicating clearly and providing feedback;and valuing variable levels and types of input. Ultimately, trust is maintained by enabling empowerment—in sharing decision-making, in leadership, and in being employed in programs.
*Question 5: Final comments (56:50)*