At a conference co-sponsored by APA, psychologists
emphasize that behavioral interventions are essential
to slowing Washington, D.C.’s HIV/AIDS epidemic.
BY REBECCA. A. CLAY
Washington, D.C., isn’t just the nation’s capital. It’s also the nation’s HIV capital, with the highest infection rate in the country.
On April 20, about 200 HIV-prevention and care providers,
For APA, the forum had an additional objective: ensuring
that prevention efforts include behavioral as well as biomedical
researchers, local and federal health officials, community-and faith-based organizations, HIV-awareness advocates and
people living with HIV/AIDS came together to explore ways
of addressing the city’s epidemic. The conference, “Advancing
the National HIV/AIDS Strategy in Metropolitan Washington:
Science-Practice Partnerships,” was sponsored by APA, Howard
University and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The AIDS Memorial Quilt is returning to Washington, D.C.,
this summer as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival June
27–July 1 and July 4–8. Washington is also host to this year’s
International AIDS Conference, July 22–27.
JULY/AUGUST 2012 • MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY
The National HIV/AIDS Strategy has three goals: reducing HIV
incidence, increasing access to care and optimizing outcomes,
and reducing HIV-related health disparities in the United States.
Achieving those goals will require better integrating
psychology into the response to HIV/AIDS, said Ronald O.
Valdiserri, MD, deputy assistant secretary for health and
infectious diseases at the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services, citing APA’s new resolution on combining
biomedical and behavioral approaches to optimize HIV
prevention (see article on page 41).
“APA’s resolution reminds us that there is no magic bullet
and no single approach — whether biomedical, behavioral,
structural or legislative — that’s going to end this epidemic in
the U.S.,” he said. “Instead, what we need to do is strengthen the
linkages between the biomedical and the behavioral.”
To reduce new infections, health-care providers must
address the psychological factors — such as fear of testing
positive — that keep people from seeking a diagnosis, said
Valdiserri. To increase access to care, providers must address
issues of stigma, he said, citing one survey of men who have
sex with men that found that fewer than half had talked about
their sexual practices with their health-care providers. To
reduce disparities, prevention efforts must address the social
determinants of health, such as intimate partner violence and
sexual abuse of women.
Noting that less than a third of the 1. 2 million Americans