In advance of World AIDS Day, the city’s Ending the Epidemic Task Force invited public input on a draft community report, which is the product of a year-long planning process that has included more than 120 stakeholders who have come together with a unified goal to end the HIV epidemic in Nashville.

As a result of the city’s HIV Summit that took place one year ago, and in conjunction with the Metro Public Health Department and community stakeholders, Mayor David Briley created the Ending the Epidemic Task Force last April.  The Task Force is a high-level advisory body that has overseen an extensive community input process to produce a draft plan, which offers recommendations to collectively improve access to care and services for the approximately 4,000 Nashvillians living with HIV and to expand prevention strategies to eliminate future infections.

“We have an obligation to make sure everyone has the information about and the access they need to preventive and treatment services for HIV,” said Mayor Briley. “I am grateful to each and every person who has committed their time and expertise to the planning process over the past year.  I encourage everyone else in Nashville to participate in the review process for this true community plan.”

Ending the Epidemic is a national movement and several cities and states have developed plans to end the HIV epidemic in their communities. Nashville is participating in a cohort of other southern jurisdictions receiving technical support from Treatment Action Group and the Southern AIDS Coalition.

“A true end to HIV will not come until there is a cure, but new science and tools are now available to bend the trajectory of this disease to pre-epidemic levels. That is why this report is important, we really can stamp out HIV in Nashville,” said Dr. James Hildreth, President and Chief Executive Officer of Meharry Medical College and chairman of the Ending the Epidemic Task Force.

The draft report released today includes initiatives and action steps that will raise awareness, reduce stigma, improve care and support for people living with HIV, and focus on prevention efforts that have the potential to eliminate future infections.

"We want to thank the Care Foundation of America for their support of the ETE planning process," said Joseph Interrante, Chief Executive Officer of Nashville CARES, the organization which served as the recipient of and fiscal agent for the grant from the Foundation.  "Through the TN Advocacy Network, CARES looks forward to sharing details about the Nashville's plan with our sister cities in Tennessee, so that we can make ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic a realizable goal for our state as a whole."

In addition to the Task Force, six action committees were formed to inform the plan. These committees met more than 35 times and included 120 unique participants.

“This plan represents an opportunity for organizations and individuals to strengthen our work as a community to reduce barriers, improve coordination, creates a seamless system that maximizes quality of life for people facing HIV, and reduces the number of people impacted by the virus,” said Bill Paul, M.D., Director of Health of Nashville and Davidson County.

The draft report can be downloaded at Community feedback on the draft will be accepted through December 31. The final report will be approved by the Task Force in early 2019.


This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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