GSI Team Attends HIV/AIDS Training In Denver, Colorado

MountainPLAINS AIDS Education and Training Center (MPAETC) recently concluded one of its monthly training program for HIV/AIDS service providers and practitioners. The three days training program which took place December 7-10, 2010 was fully sponsored by MountainPLAINS AIDS Education and Training Center in Denver Colorado was attended by Dr. Pauline Burthwick, PhD., MSW, LICSW, a social worker and counselor in Moorhead, Minnesota and Bibian Nwokedi, a Health Educator and program coordinator for GSI in Fargo, North Dakota.

MPAETC is affiliated with the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases. MPAETC trains practicing and student health professionals on HIV infection, and provides updated information on HIV-related treatment and care issues. The Mountain Plains AIDS Education & Training Center (MPAETC) is one of 12 regional AETCs funded nationwide by a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through the Ryan White Program.

On the first day of the training, there was a basic introduction of Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS the virus that causes AIDS, causes of HIV/AIDS, how it affects the body system, and risk behavior that leads to HIV/AIDS. This introductory phase was followed by a visit to the “Harm Reduction Center” in Denver a nonprofit organization that reaches out to injection drug users and affected partners in accordance with harm reduction principles. They work as a team to educate, empower and advocate for the health and dignity of Metro-Denver’s injection drug users and affected partners. During the visit, we learned about the program, benefits and challenges of reaching out to drug users in the community. In addition to unsafe sexual practices, injection drug use is one of the risk factors that leads to HIV infection.

On the second day, a visit was made to University of Colorado Hospital, one of the leading hospitals in the nation. The goal of the visit was to observe how medical practitioners treat, counsel, and help HIV/AIDS patients adhere to required medical recommendations that enhances HIV/AIDS management.

On the third and last day of the training a visit was made to Denver Public Health. Denver Public Health (DPH) is nationally renowned for its proficiency in testing and offering treatment for various types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). They offer services ranging from confidential testing, counseling, and treatment for STDs. Also, a visit was made in the same building to the Denver Prevention Training Center funded by the Centers for Disease Control to provide training to health care providers on STD clinical management, behavioral and social interventions, and partner counseling and referral services. During the visit, we were given information on HIV/AIDS testing processes, and steps to take to avoid contracting HIV and other STDs. We also observed how a social worker test and counsel people with HIV. Patients were asked about their risk factors and steps they are taking to avoid contracting HIV and other STDs as part of the testing process. The HIV test takes about 10-20 minutes, to carry out the test, blood is taken from the patients arm. Following the test, a trained counselor discusses the results with the patient. If the test is negative, a plan is developed with the patient to help avoid infection in the future. If the test is positive, the counselor will help the patient find out about the many treatment and support options that are available and schedule an appointment to assist the patient in receiving medical care and avoid transmitting the virus to others.

In conclusion, the knowledge acquired from this training is very timely and will help to prepare the GSI team for the AIDS education and nutritional care project ahead of them. We look forward to attending more resourceful training like this one.