Person-Centered Care: Key Theme at 2022 International AIDS Conference

By Jessica Posner

The global HIV community is increasingly supporting person-centered care, demanding further de-medicalization of the HIV response and shifting the focus of control to the person. During last week’s International AIDS Conference, delegates openly acknowledged that traditional service delivery models will not be enough to achieve the UNAIDS 95–95–95 goals.

While current antiretroviral and care approaches can suppress HIV, achieving optimal quality of life requires a wider consideration of a person’s well-being, the complexity of individuals’ lives, and the social determinants of health.

A key theme emerged during the course of the conference: people must not only survive but thrive! Achieving viral suppression is a necessary but insufficient goal. The COVID-19 pandemic transformed the usual order of business, clearly demonstrating that delivering health care services and medications closer to home and in more flexible, convenient ways, is feasible. In fact, these differentiated service delivery approaches lead to comparable, if not better outcomes for all people.

JSI is at the forefront of this transformation, shifting the global paradigm of health systems and service delivery. We are disrupting traditional medical (and often paternalistic) norms that expect people to fit the system. Instead, we are focusing on how systems and services can meet people where they are and give them what they need.

JSI’s Framework for Person-Centered Care in HIV Treatment. What does person-centered care mean to you? Take a moment to weigh in on our framework.

To inspire a global discussion on person-centered care (PCC) within HIV at AIDS 2022 in Montreal last week, JSI convened stakeholders from the WHO, USAID, PATH, the Institute of HIV Research and Innovation, and mothers2mothers in a session titled Beyond theory: People, providers, and policymakers share practical perspectives on delivering responsive, person-centered HIV primary health care.

Held just before the conference opening plenary, the session included a series of presentations, video testimonials, and a lively panel discussion that highlighted several key points:

The “Beyond theory: People, providers, and policymakers share practical perspectives on delivering responsive, person-centered HIV primary health care” session at AIDS 2022 hosted by JSI.

In the session, and throughout the conference, we learned about evidence-based PCC approaches including:

At the close of the session, JSI’s Kate Onyejekwe challenged all delegates to take the following actions to advance PCC:

Donors and funders: Integrating person-centered HIV services will require resources. Let’s move away from our vertical funding silos and consider adjacent or more integrated programs and realign our performance metrics to measure this.

Policymakers: Many times, we develop aspirational, high-quality policies but fail to operationalize them through guidelines, circulars, training, tools, and indicators. We need political will to transform this vision into a reality in our health centers and communities.

Implementers: In our zeal to deliver services and achieve targets, we may lose sight of our true end goal: supporting people to live high-quality and meaningful lives. Let’s move away from vertical, disease-specific interventions as the only way to achieve targets and maintain epidemic control. People prefer integrated programs, which are often more cost-efficient in the long run.

People: We are all individual users of health services in our communities. We can continue to provide feedback and demand that services be provided in the manner and method we prefer. Let’s keep pressure on our service providers, policymakers, and officials to transform the way health care is delivered, putting us at the center.

JSI’s Center for HIV & Infectious Diseases and its new Behavior Initiative are sharing promising practices with donors, partners, divisions, projects, and staff. In doing so, we are transforming how we design, equip, implement, and monitor our programs. We remain committed to shifting the global paradigm of health service delivery, putting person-centered care at the core of our work.

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JSI is a public health consulting firm that works to improve the health and well-being of underserved and vulnerable people and communities throughout the world