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HIV and AIDS center at UIC goes national with help of $3 million grant

The Midwest AIDS Training and Education Center (MATEC) at the University of Illinois Chicago Department of Family and Community Medicine will expand its services nationwide with the help of a new $3 million grant.

The center, which was founded in 1988 to provide HIV/AIDS training for medical students and primary care physicians, already works to bring the National HIV Curriculum to medical students and professionals in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin.

“MATEC will build on the lessons learned from a previous project carried out in the past four years when we worked with 16 academic institutions with accredited programs of medicine, nursing and pharmacy in the Midwest,” said Ricardo Rivero, MD, MPH,  executive director at MATEC and a co-principal investigator on the grant. “With this project we successfully integrated content from the National HIV Curriculum E-Learning Platform into their existing curricula. By doing so, we firmly believe we enhanced the quality of HIV education and training at those institutions.”

Natacha Pierre, DNP, FNP-BC

This new project is funded by a second grant from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). MATEC will use these new funds to continue reaching graduate programs in medicine, nursing and pharmacy, but will also target residency programs in dentistry and family medicine. The project will also expand its reach beyond the Midwest to academic institutions located in the 57 priority jurisdictions identified by HHS Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) plan.

In addition to continuing its work with graduate schools in medicine, nursing and pharmacy, MATEC will use the new funds to target physician residency programs for family medicine practitioners.

Also funded by the HRSA, the National HIV Curriculum is a free educational program for health professionals that provides “the latest in HIV science, treatment protocols, practices and federal guidelines for educating health professionals on the optimal care and treatment of people with HIV.”

The curriculum was developed by the University of Washington and the AIDS Education and Training Centers National Coordinating Resource Center.

“The NHC has a tremendous impact on our students’ ability to provide knowledgeable and compassionate care to people living with HIV,” explained Natacha Pierre, DNP, FNP-BC, a clinical assistant professor of population health nursing science at UIC College of Nursing and co-investigator on the grant. “Increasing the number and quality of healthcare providers is essential to increasing access to care and ending the HIV epidemic. If we are to meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ goal to end the HIV epidemic by 2030, we need to go national. We are up for the challenge.”

According to Corina Wagner, MATEC research and evaluation manager and co-principal investigator on the new grant, “The project will assist existing faculty, especially those who are not HIV specialists and who may lack the HIV clinical background, with knowledge of HIV content, teaching methods and ways to address potential students’ reluctance to engage with vulnerable communities such as the ones most affected by HIV.”

Rivero added, “By doing so, the project will continue to address students’ and residents’ attitudinal barriers to care for people living with or at risk of acquiring HIV, and we expect that those who have been trained in HIV care through the integrated National HIV Curriculum will be able to identify, address or properly refer their patients with HIV-related needs, particularly for chronic illness interventions that appear as a growing number people living with HIV age.”

Other key faculty and co-investigators on the new grant include Mahesh Patel, MD, assistant professor at UIC College of Medicine; Blake Max, PharmD, clinical associate professor at UIC College of Pharmacy; and Sarah Henkle, MD, assistant professor of clinical family medicine at UIC Department of Family and Community Medicine.