The STP convened a COVID-19 Virtual Strategic Think Tank (VSTT) on October 14th, 2020, 3pm – 6pm EST, with community leaders of color, management leaders at organization serving communities of color, researchers, public health leaders, and funders to (a) discuss the preliminary findings of the national rapid assessment; (b) develop strategies to achieve the goals of “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America by 2030”; and (c) map out future strategies to strengthening our community-based organizations nationwide as we address the COVID-19 health-related needs of people of color beyond 2021. A total of 162 people from 105 different organizations / institutions participated. Almost all participants occupied leadership positions within their organizations, including 52 executive directors/ceo/coo.
Organizations that have been providing long-standing and proven-effective HIV/STI/HCV services to communities of color are now struggling to provide vital services while also addressing our newest pandemic, COVID-19. This challenge has been exacerbated within our communities of color which have suffered the long-term impact of health inequalities and of being at ground zero for both pandemics. When organizations, such as these, are under acute stress, they are more likely and, in many cases, need to operate in survival mode, which means that attention is more narrowly focused on the immediate, the here and now. As such, these organizations may struggle to implement their strategic plans; leadership may have difficulty providing adequate staff support; and organizations may not be prepared to make informed, and sometimes difficult, programmatic and funding decisions.
In addition to the VSTT and working with over 90 other organizations, STP assessed the institutional challenges posed by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) to the provision of HIV/STI/HCV services to communities of color in the U.S., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Associated Pacific Island Jurisdictions. A report of the COVID-19 National Rapid Assessment can be downloaded at https://ilhe.org/stronger-together-partnership-c19-national-rapid-assessment-preliminary-report/.