Completion of Phase 1 and Preliminary Findings

Completion of Phase 1: Contextual Assessment

Project ACE has successfully completed Phase 1, which focused on a comprehensive contextual assessment. This phase included focus groups with service providers, community leaders, and affected community members. A total of 93 participants contributed valuable insights through these focus groups, which aimed to understand their experiences and perspectives on HIV stigma, strategies of resistance, and community resilience.

Key Findings from Phase 1

  1. HIV Stigma and Mental Health: The findings highlighted that HIV stigma significantly impacts mental health, leading to increased vulnerability to substance use and HIV. Addressing mental health issues is crucial in reducing HIV vulnerability.
  2. Systemic Racism and Access Barriers: Historical and ongoing systemic racism perpetuates HIV stigma and creates additional barriers to HIV prevention and care. This emphasizes the need for multi-level interventions to address these systemic issues.
  3. Impact on Women and LGBTQ+ Communities: Structural violence against women and LGBTQ+ communities further reinforces HIV stigma, increasing their vulnerability to HIV. This calls for targeted interventions to support these groups.
  4. Lack of HIV Literacy: There is a lack of HIV literacy in the general public, which perpetuates stigma. Enhancing public education on HIV is essential to reduce stigma and improve health outcomes.
  5. Community Engagement: Engaging communities is critical for stigma reduction and promoting resilience. Community-driven approaches are necessary to create sustainable change.

Implications and Next Steps

The findings from Phase 1 will inform the adaptation of the ACE intervention modules for the next phases. The project will continue to focus on building community capacity in stigma reduction and promoting resilience through targeted interventions and community engagement. The insights gained from this phase underscore the importance of addressing systemic issues and enhancing public HIV literacy as integral components of the project’s strategy.

These preliminary findings set the stage for Phase 2, where the focus will be on training community leaders and service providers to become facilitators and champions in reducing HIV stigma and promoting community resilience.