ARTAS Provides a Strengths Based Approach to Linking Clients to Essential HIV Medical Care

You may have noticed  HIV funding trend are shifting away from behavioral programs that are resource intensive and not demonstrating an impact on the improving the HIV Continuum of care.  Capital is being realigned to support specific, measurable, interventions that can make a high impact.  As well as, strategies that can focus on detecting new cases, linking them to care, and ultimately keeping the individual free of detectable virus. We’re experiencing disruptive changes in the HIV field are moving to help the client become more of an active partner in their health care and less reliant on us.

A program that is quickly gaining traction across the country is Anti-Retroviral Treatment and Access to Services (ARTAS), designed to get the newly diagnosed HIV client linked to medical care within 90 days or five meeting sessions with a linkage coordinator (LC).  The public health strategy employs a combination of frameworks including; social cognitive theory, Humanistic Psychology, and Individual Strengths based approach to influence the client to enter HIV medical care within five meeting sessions.  The program is for those that have recently been diagnosed with HIV (within 6-12 months).

The three-day training to become an ARTAS LC consists of learning skills to build the clients’ self-efficacy.  The objective is to building the clients’ belief that they are capable of making it to their first doctor appointment.   The LC is taught to assess the client rather than their needs.   In many of our roles we’ve been trained to learn what’s wrong and find a solution. The individual strengths based approach can be a bit counterintuitive to those of us experienced in the client-centered approach. We tend to be conditioned to first assess what the client needs followed with a plan on how to get the client resources.  The menu of resources we can offer a client is often limited by the program budget.  ARTAS trains the LC to help the client identify the client’s personal goals, strengths, and resources.  Often these strengths and resources may have otherwise been unrecognized as strength or appreciated as resources.  The client’s incentive becomes a self-driven desire to succeed rather than a carrot on a stick approach (i.e. gift cards…).

As ARTAS programs are rolling out we are learning that more and more organizations are implementing this strategy in the field.  ARTAS became available in February 2012 and it continues to be diffused at a rapid rate.  Program Managers from all around have been challenged to find a place for this strategy.  Traditionally HIV prevention and care have remained separated by internal bureaucracy and funding.   The introduction of programs focused on linking clients to care forces departments to bridge initiatives and collaborate more closely than ever.

We’re interested in learning about your experience implementing ARTAS in your community.  Please write us and tell your thoughts about this intervention at cbadivision@latinoaids.org.  Also, be sure to tell us if we may share remarks in future editions of CBA Connect.  You can learn more about ARTAS and its schedule of upcoming trainings by following this link to effectiveinterventions.org.

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