Culturally-Responsive Trainings for CHWs Can Improve HIV Outcomes

In 2018, the majority of people diagnosed with HIV in the United States were from racial and ethnic minority communities. While HIV treatment has advanced dramatically in recent years, only 61% of people living with HIV are virally suppressed. Community Health Workers (CHWs) are becoming essential members of the HIV workforce because they can help address structural inequities and stigma that often prevent people with HIV from seeking and receiving care. 

A new paper  published in Frontiers in Public Health from researchers at The Center for Innovation in Social Work & Health (CISWH) and the BU School of Social Work (BUSSW) describes a comprehensive training approach and curricula for CHWs and supervisors.  The training and curricula described in the paper were developed as part of a  recent CISWH project titled Improving Access to Care: Using Community Health Workers to Improve Linkage and Retention in HIV Care, which was funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)’s HIV/AIDS Bureau from 2016 – 2020. 

The project developed the training curricula using theories of Popular Education  and the CHW core consensus competency (C3) project framework. Experts in HIV, CHW training and supervision, and CHWs currently working in HIV care participated in the training development in order to create a  training and supervision system that is culturally responsive to the diverse social, economic, and medical needs of people with HIV. The curricula guides CHWs and their supervisors on elements including, how to support clients facing discrimination and stigma, educate them about lab results, help them adhere to treatment schedules, and navigate the healthcare services system. Supervisors learned strategies for  self-care techniques,  providing strengths-based feedback, and mentoring and coaching.

These curricula, which include 80 hours of training for CHWs and 20 hours of training for supervisors, were implemented virtually and in-person over the course of two years. Participating CHWs and supervisors shared their experiences in the field and sought input from their peers for implementing new practices and policies. The curricula were successful in promoting an exchange of knowledge and building trusting relationships among CHWs and supervisors alike. 

Read the full article.

BU Today – Border Studies Program Gives Opportunity to Learn About Migrant Communities

Photo Courtesy of BU Today

Boston University’s Mexico-US Border Studies Program gave students the unique opportunity to work with migrants directly at the Texas/Mexico border in March. Traveling with a number of BU faculty, including CISWH’s Professor Luz López, students from several BU schools collaborated with local organizations in Texas to provide services to migrant families. In a BU Today story, students and faculty share their firsthand experiences working with migrant communities in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Excerpt from “Border Studies Program Offers Chance to Learn about Migrants and Border Wall Firsthand” by Sara Rimer, originally published in BU Today: 

It’s one thing to study the US/Mexico border, US immigration policy, and the complex challenges facing migrants in the classroom. It’s another kind of learning altogether to travel with BU faculty to the Rio Grande Valley to see the border wall and meet the migrants and the people working with them firsthand.

Nine students in BU’s 2022 Mexico-US Border Studies Program—part of the University-wide Initiative on Forced Displacement led by Carrie Preston, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of English and of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and Muhammad Zaman, a College of Engineering professor of biomedical engineering and of materials science and engineering—had the opportunity to do both this year.

After a series of seminars, readings, and class discussions this past fall, with topics ranging from the history of US immigration policy to migrant health during the pandemic, the students, along with Preston, director of the Border Studies Program, and Luz M. López, a School of Social Work clinical professor and director of the Global Health Core at the Center of Innovation in Social Work & Health at SSW, spent nearly two weeks earlier this month visiting the lower Rio Grande Valley, an area that encompasses Brownsville and McAllen, Tex., and Matamoros and Reynosa, Mexico.

BU School of Social Work: The Network for Professional Education Offers a Free Online Course on Structural and Institutional Racism

The Network for Professional Education at BUSSW offers a free, three-part course developed by BUSSW Professor Dawn Belkin Martinez and colleagues that explores how white supremacist social structures reinforce racial inequality in the United States. Since racial discrimination directly influences personal health, well-being, and quality of life, it is a social determinant of health as recognized by the U.S. Health Department. 

Excerpt from “Understanding Structural & Institutional Racism: The Network for Professional Education at BUSSW Offers Free Online Course” originally posted on the BU SSW Website:

“‘The continuing impacts of structural and institutional racism are painful to learn about, talk about, see and experience,’ says Belkin Martinez. ‘Confronting this reality may be a new experience for some, a lived experience for others, and uncomfortable for all, particularly because we each approach it from our own unique life journey and cannot help but bring our pasts into the conversation.’”

Read the full article here.


Register For the Course Here


2/17: Disability, Race, and Gender: Reproductive Health Solutions

Equity and Inclusion Speaker Series
Hosted by the BUSSW Equity & Inclusion Committee
Thursday, February 17th | 5:30–7:00 pm ET


Watch the Recording:

Inequities in our healthcare system have an unprecedented effect on Black women, especially those with disabilities.  In Disability, Race, and Gender: Reproductive Health Solutions, Natasha M. Lee-Johnson, an expert in reproductive health, identifies shortcomings within the healthcare system and shares how social work and health leaders can help advance the fight for reproductive justice. This presentation is part of Boston University School of Social Work’s Equity & Inclusion Speaker Series, which highlights social work at the intersection of social justice, equity, and inclusion. 


Read More about Natasha M. Lee-Johnson and her work here.