Strategic Planning for Elimination of the HIV/HCV/STI Syndemic

California Department of Public Health

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Office of AIDS and STD Control Branch joined together in early 2021 to develop a high-level, high-impact strategic plan for addressing HIV, hepatitis C, and STIs over the next five years They knew they wanted to treat HIV, HCV, and STIs as a “syndemic,” fulfilling requirements for a CDC/HRSA Integrated HIV Plan, a Statewide Hepatitis C Elimination Plan, and a Congenital Syphilis Elimination Plan while recognizing that, to people living in California, these diseases coexist and affect people in overlapping ways. Ultimately, the group decided that to best enhance their work to end HIV, hepatitis C, and STIs, they needed to focus on those Californians who still hadn’t had the opportunity to thrive despite all the effort put forth to date, and that they should develop a single strategic plan that addressed these issues through the lens of social determinants of health.

To create the high-level plan released in late 2021, Facente Consulting convened a workgroup of 25 people from CDPH, statewide organizations, and other stakeholder groups, which met for 90 minutes every Tuesday for 13 weeks. These meetings were learning and planning sessions where partners from relevant organizations throughout the state came to present their work to the workgroup, then collaborate in activities to ultimately develop a list of 30 strategies across six categories: racial equity, housing first, health access for all, mental health and substance use, economic justice, and a need to be stigma-free. Once the plan was released, Facente Consulting embarked upon a “road show,” holding in-person meetings in 16 California cities in May and June 2022, supplementing these meetings with five virtual input sessions and a statewide electronic survey. The information collected through these efforts was used to develop a realistic, actionable blueprint for implementation of the 30 high-level strategies throughout California from 2022-2026.