Rob Stephenson

Creating Optimal Linkage to Prevention and Care Services for Young MSM in Southeast Michigan

Research Project Description

Young men who have sex with men (YMSM) often face a myriad of barriers when trying to access services to help them lower their risk of HIV or to manage their HIV. YMSM may not have the financial resources or experience with the health care system that allows them to link to services. Equally, health service providers may not always know what YMSM need or what is available for them. Through this Herb Ritts initiative, we aim to address this significant gap in access to services for YMSM. We will develop and test an online linkage to care resource ? accessible by YMSM and community health workers (e.g., patient navigators, social workers, and case managers) ? that helps to remove service silos and breaks through the clutter that currently exists across health and social service systems. The online resource lists health and social services available in the region that may be accessed by YMSM, information about each service, and strategy to access services at low or no cost through funding streams (e.g., The Affordable Care Act (ACA), Ryan White, and non-profit agency services).

Changes to state and federal funding mechanisms for healthcare and social services (e.g., Ryan White, ACA) are perfect catalysts for the proposed work as agencies are re-evaluating budgets and programming as a result of these legislative shifts. Therefore, this is the ideal time for developing resources that promote equitable linkage to care for YMSM. Over the first year of the project, we will develop and pilot test the linkage to care tool alongside partner agencies and YMSM. During the second year, we will examine whether use of the tool increases routine HIV/STI testing among HIV-negative YMSM and increases HIV/AIDS linkage and retention in care for HIV-positive YMSM. If effective, our tool will be disseminated for scale-up in other regions around the country. The ultimate goal of the proposed activities is to provider a clear, centralized system that lists all available services in one easy to navigate system and thus allows service providers to make referrals and YMSM to access services.

Herb Ritts Foundation
(Grant Agreement HRF 2015115)

Funding Period: 12/1/2014 to 11/30/2017

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