NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project
The NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum: Mental Health Training and Education of Social Workers Project (NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project) has offered education, training, and technical assistance to health and behavioral health care providers on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the mental health and wellness of individuals, families, and communities affected by HIV/AIDS. The project has worked in collaboration with federal and state agencies, universities, community-based organizations, NASW chapters and other professional associations.
The goal of the NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project is to provide necessary practice skills on mental health, substance use, trauma, end-of-life care, ethics, long-term health impact of HIV/AIDS, and medication adherence to enhance and promote culturally competent practice with individuals, families, and communities affected by HIV/AIDS.
Program content has been presented via knowledge-focused, skill-based training that addressed mental health and HIV/AIDS within a strengths-based bio-psychosocial–spiritual perspective. Participants typically have been university lecturers, program directors of local CBOs and NGOs, mental health practitioners, community advocates, health volunteers, and other community health professionals interested in the psychosocial aspects of care for persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. The HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project has offered the following skill-building workshops, each using a lecture, case studies, and small group exercises:
- Providing services in complex times: working with clients living with HIV/AIDS and co-occurring mental health disorders. This workshop addressed the bio-psychosocial factors of living with HIV/AIDS; identification and early intervention with mental health problems; HIV-related neuropsychological problems; and highlighted tools for working with clients with dual or multiple diagnoses.
- Addressing ethical dilemmas in an era of complex practice issue: HIV/AIDS as a case study. This workshop explored legal and ethical issues, individual and institutional attitudes that may affect services, opportunities to provide culturally competent services, and a framework for ethical decision making.
- Substance use, mental health, and HIV/AIDS: An integrated response. This workshop addressed common risk factors; assessed professional and personal issues; the effect of micro and macro issues on services; identified risk reduction techniques; and demonstrates the application of a comprehensive and integrated practice model.
- The role of the social work in medication treatment adherence: HIV/AIDS as a case study. This workshop reviewed factors affecting adherence, the role of the mental health care provider in adherence, the benefits of risk reduction strategies, and stages of behavior change to identify barriers and steps to adherence. The ADHERE model has been presented as a framework for promoting culturally competent practice with individual clients, their family, and within the broader communities affected by HIV/AIDS.
In addition to curriculum development and training/education programs, the project model has included a training-of-trainers component; webinars and online education. Twenty-four expert social workers participated in the train-the-trainer model.
The NASW HIV/AIDS Spectrum Project has reached more than 18,000 providers in the United States and worldwide through in-person skill-building workshops. Online programming offered through NASW WebED courses have ensured that an additional 20,000 social workers from 38 countries better understand HIV/AIDS as a global health pandemic.
The project Advisory Committee, composed of social workers with expertise in HIV/AIDS and mental health social work, guided the work and served as Senior Faculty for workshops as well as specialty modules. Advisory Committee: Lisa Cox, associate professor, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (NJ); Nathan Linsk, Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois and Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (IL); Dimas Moncada, clinician and trainer; Jill Sabatine, social services director, AIDS Care Ocean State (RI); Dianne Green-Smith, Ph.D., LMSW, ACSW, program director, School of Social Work, Grand Valley State University; Melissa Sellevaag, project director, JBS International; and Terry Tauger, clinician and trainer. Jeremy Goldbach, Assistant Professor, University of Southern California serves as the Project Evaluator.
The project was funded through a multi-year SAMHSA/CMHS Contract # 280-09-0292 with the NASW Foundation and NASW that concluded in 2017. For more information about the project, its body of work, and other HIV/AIDS-related information, please visit the NASW website.