World AIDS Day: Leadership. Commitment. Impact.
By Meredith DeDona
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor joins in the global commemoration of World AIDS Day. Held annually on Dec. 1, it is an opportunity to show support for our family members, neighbors and colleagues living with HIV/AIDS, reflect on progress made and commit to continued collective action.
The Labor Department is proud to be one of six agencies responsible for implementing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and to highlight the positive role employment plays with respect to health. Research has shown a positive association between work and improved physical and mental health, improved quality of life, and reduced social service costs for people living with HIV/AIDS. These findings have wide-ranging implications and are critically important, particularly given where we were in the early days of the epidemic.
Today, our focus at the Labor Department is on improving employment opportunities and outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS, while also reducing stigma and discrimination. In collaboration with our partners, we are working to shift the paradigm to include the possibility and benefits of work. For example, we partnered with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the National Working Positive Coalition to create Getting to Work: An Online Training Curriculum for HIV/AIDS Service Providers and Housing Providers. This interactive multi-media curriculum assists service providers with understanding how employment adds value for individuals, families and communities.
NWPC President Mark Misrok recently commented on the importance of such collaborations, saying:
“We are grateful and proud of partnerships developing between the HIV care and prevention and the job-training and employment-service sectors, understanding the critical value of public workforce programs to health and prevention outcomes… A priority for NWPC is continuing to find and support new partners and friends working in workforce development for linkages with HIV-service providers around the U.S. We greatly appreciate assistance from DOL in facilitating these much needed linkages.”
DOL and HUD also have partnered with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in support of the Secretary’s Minority AIDS Initiative Fund, with projects like Targeted Highly Effective Interventions to Reverse the HIV Epidemic, or THRIVE.
THRIVE is a demonstration project supporting seven state and local health departments to collaborate with community-based organizations, health care clinics and providers, behavioral health providers, and social services providers to develop comprehensive models of prevention, care, behavioral health and social services models to improve HIV outcomes. The target population is men of color who have sex with men, including those who identify as gay or bisexual. DOL and HUD representatives have participated in THRIVE grantee meetings to share information on available resources to help the grantees in their efforts to provide housing assistance, job training and employment services.
Collaborations like these are key to our continued forward progress towards an AIDS-free generation. Today, and every day, we commit to creating a world where meaningful, self-directed employment is a reality enjoyed by all people living with HIV/AIDS.
Meredith DeDona is a senior policy advisor and member of the Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Employment-Related Support Policy Team.