Building a National Resource Center for HIV Prevention from the Ground Up
Ann H. Cary, PhD, MPH, RN, is dean and professor at the School of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Executive Nurse Fellow from 2008 to 2011.
Human Capital Blog: Congratulations on the grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support the creation of a national resource center for HIV prevention at the School of Nursing and Health Studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City! What will your role be at the center?
Ann H. Cary: My role is to ensure that the new center has the institutional resources it needs to succeed. This translates into procuring space reallocation and furnishings; supporting personnel hires; consulting with the CDC grant leadership team to remove organizational barriers; assisting in solving any challenges to the center’s rollout; and telling the story about this project through institutional messaging to our community, the discipline of nursing, and to other stakeholders and partners.
HCB: What is your vision for the center?
Cary: That the National HIV Prevention Coordinating Resource Center grant results in a center that leads and coordinates products for providers and the communities they serve to ultimately improve the prevention and treatment of people living with, or at risk of, acquiring HIV.
HCB: The center will be housed at a school of nursing and health studies. Why is that important?
Cary: The School of Nursing and Health Studies is an interprofessional school that aims to bring a culture of health and health care providers to our communities. The CDC grant builds on the success of similar federal ventures within the school to improve care in addiction services, education, and prevention. This new CDC grant is important; it acknowledges our school’s proven ability to coordinate and create a national plan to improve health and health care and implement it for the country.
HCB: You’ve said you hope the center will help spread the “best-in-class evidence” for HIV educational materials. Is misinformation the biggest barrier to prevention?
Cary: We know that lack of education is one of many barriers to prevention. Knowledge is an essential, but not sufficient, motivator for HIV prevention in communities. Misinformation contributes to a culture of fear and stymies the ability of providers, populations, and patients to plan and intervene effectively. The word FEAR is actually an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real” and, as such, is a powerful paralytic agent to translating science into practice.
"Fear ... a powerful paralytic agent to translating science into practice."
HCB: Many gains have been made with regard to HIV/AIDS, but about 50,000 people are still infected every year in the United States, according to the CDC. Why is that?
Cary: Community knowledge, community practices, social determinants of health, and community cultures all align to produce disparities in how a community addresses the challenges of HIV/AIDS. We are starting to work smarter through the discovery of evidence-based practices, more effective marketing strategies, a better understanding of specific populations and community characteristics, and translational research to develop unified data collection efforts and evaluation metrics to understand what works for whom in prevention and treatment. Both big data and genomics are contributing to a greater aggregate understanding that will ultimately result in lowering the incidence of HIV/AIDS.
HCB: How can nursing students and nurses prevent new infections?
Cary: Nurses and students are part of the knowledge-worker and intellectual capital that is needed to address this issue. Faculty must teach the best of evidence-based practices to our students and instill in them a life-long commitment to putting new knowledge into practice. Nurses are the most frequent providers of community-based health care services and receive high marks for trust from the public. Armed with knowledge, trust, and a capacity to work in interprofessional teams, nurses are often the front line of prevention and protection for the health of the public.
HCB: You were an RWJF Executive Nurse Fellow (ENF). How did that experience prepare you to lead this new initiative?
Cary: The RWJF ENF program enabled me to refine and expand my understanding of leadership; think and act strategically; sharpen my team-development skills; span the boundaries of interprofessional engagement; work as a change leader; and see risk as an opportunity for innovation. This national award is the largest project being led by the school. I have a deep commitment to this team, and I consider it a privilege to contribute to this effort to achieve the CDC project goals. I am confident that I will have the skills to craft the optimal environment for its success. And I know I can always call on my ENF colleagues for guidance at any point in the process!