Community Health Workers: Improving Linkage and Retention in HIV Care

Community health workers (CHWs)—trained lay people, often with lived experiences or cultural identities shared with the clients they work with—can serve as important members of care teams in a variety of settings. Through their life experience, knowledge of the community, and understanding of healthcare systems, CHWs address barriers to healthcare to ensure it is accessible to everyone. Ten organizations across the U.S. integrated CHWs into their multidisciplinary care teams, through Improving Access to Care: Using Community Health Workers to Improve Linkage and Retention in HIV Care, a Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program (RWHAP) initiative from 2016 to 2019. Clients who enrolled in this CHW intervention had statistically significant improvements in viral suppression, antiretroviral therapy (ART) prescription, and appointment attendance after six months in the program.