End the Epidemic among Young People

National Library of Medicine & NMAC Youth Navigator Program
Submitted by Terrell Parker

As our constituents move closer to developing their ending the epidemic plans, NMAC is committed to ensuring we prioritize groups and communities currently experiencing the heaviest burden of new HIV transmissions and those who despite advances in HIV treatment are not reaching viral suppression. One group we must prioritize and center in our ending the epidemic efforts is our youth population.

NMAC is proud to continue its Youth Navigation Program, in collaboration with the National Library of Medicine (NLM). The project will continue to engage HIV navigators who tailor their services for youth populations (13-24) and provide tailored HIV/AIDS information resources, tools, and technical assistance and training. During this project, NMAC will work with its existing youth focused Advisory Board to build upon lessons learned to further work to eradicate HIV amongst youth.

Why Do the Youth Navigators Matter?
The Youth Navigation Program is based on the concept that people in communities trained as HIV navigators can be affective at eliminating barriers to the timely prevention of HIV as well as helping people living with HIV reach viral suppression. According to the CDC “In 2017, youth aged 13 to 24a made up 21% (8,164) of the 38,739 new HIV diagnoses in the United States and dependent areas. Youth with HIV are the least likely of any age group to be timely linked to care and have a suppressed viral load.” Also, the CDC’s recently released 2018 Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance Report found that rates of reported gonorrhea and chlamydia were highest among teens and young adults. As new HIV/STI transmission rates for youth are at an all-time high, effective youth navigation is needed now more than ever. We must increase our efforts to prevent HIV among youth.

Meaningfully Involved Community
The Youth Navigation Program will continue to engage HIV navigators who tailor their services to the youth populations (13-24), develop tailored HIV/AIDS information resources and tools, and provide training and technical assistance on NLM and other reputable HIV/AIDS resources to navigate youth through the health care management spectrum of HIV/AIDS.

Through this partnership, The New ERA: YNP will accomplish the following:

  • Understand barriers and provide the resources and tools for HIV Navigators that serve the youth on HIV prevention, treatment and the value of research;
  • Improve self-efficacy and health literacy by youth and HIV navigators on obtaining quality, accurate and authoritative HIV/AIDS information resources;
  • Increase the knowledge, skills, awareness and use of NLM HIV/AIDS Resources (AIDSinfo®/AIDSource) for HIV navigators;
  • Refine the branding campaign to further promote “The New ERA of HIV: Youth Navigation Program;” and
  • Develop and disseminate training materials in three areas; Navigator and Peer education, Youth Client Outreach, and PrEP Adherence and develop a Youth Navigation Toolkit as well.

What’s Next?
We understand that youth face compounding issues making it more difficult to access prevention and care services. Training and development for navigators will be pivotal to ending the HIV epidemic among young people. Addressing HIV in youth requires that we give young people the information and tools they need to reduce their risk, make healthy decisions, and get treatment and care if needed. Disparities in access to accurate HIV/AIDS information, misconceptions, and concerns around stigma among youth require NLM to respond to the changing HIV/AIDS environment – changes in both the demographics of the epidemic, as well as in technology.

Additional information on the 2020 Youth Navigation Program Advisory Board Consortium will be forth coming! As we look to the future of health with a person-driven model of care, it is even more critical for health information to be precise and tailored for those who need it most.