O'Neill Institute  |  November 29, 2021

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In many communities, HIV exists as part of a syndemic that also encompasses other infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases, poverty, unemployment, substance use disorders, and systemic discrimination. Despite many successes, inadequate attention to responding to the social drivers of health holds the United States back from achieving its HIV prevention and care goals. Because our national approach to monitoring discrete health conditions is outdated — making it difficult to adopt syndemic strategies for improving community health — public health needs to adapt.

Therefore, policy action is needed to engage stakeholders in data modernization initiative (DMI) implementation, broaden its vision to include workforce development and integration with other human services programs, make syndemic approaches more central to the delivery of public health programs and services, enhance data protection standards, and restrict law enforcement’s access to public health surveillance data.

Taking into account the historically fraught engagement between some health departments and marginalized communities, successful implementation of the DMI will require a robust commitment to strengthening community partnerships and addressing syndemics.

Read the Big Ideas here.

Read the Big Ideas in Brief here.

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