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Davoust M, Drainoni ML, Baughman A, Campos Rojo M, Estes T, Rajabiun S, Ross-Davis K, McCann K, Sullivan M, Todd L, Wolfe HL, Sprague Martinez L. "He Gave Me Spirit and Hope": Client Experiences with the Implementation of Community Health Worker Programs in HIV Care. AIDS Patient Care and Stds. 2021 Aug 1; 35(8):318-326.
Community health workers (CHWs) are members of the frontline health workforce who serve as intermediaries between health services and communities. In the United States, the role of CHWs has begun to expand as they have been shown to improve outcomes and reduce inequities in care for chronic conditions. This study used qualitative methods to explore the experiences of clients in CHW programs to inform their implementation in HIV care. Thirty clients from 6 Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program care settings across the United States participated in individual semistructured interviews to learn more about their experiences working with a CHW. Four key themes arose from the client perspective. First, CHWs embodied key qualities. Some of the qualities clients attributed to CHWs included being caring and supportive, along with capable of fostering personal connections. Second, CHWs met clients where they were. Clients described the CHW approach as more holistic compared with other care team members; they emphasized CHWs were able to focus on whatever was needed in that moment. Third, CHWs occupied a unique role in the HIV care team. Clients noted CHWs had more time to dedicate to their interactions; they also saw CHWs as representing a different level of authority. Finally, CHWs influenced how clients engaged with care and accessed resources. This included empowering clients to access resources independently in the future. Overall, clients'' perceptions of CHWs in terms of their qualities, approach, role, and influence on the HIV care experience suggest they are a valuable resource on the care team.