HIV Specialist - March 2021 - 34

BEHAVIORAL 
Using Virtual Platforms to Promote Mental Health and Well-Being Among 

BY: Karen McKinnon, MA, Francine Cournos, MD,
Daria Boccher-Lattimore, DRPH, Cody Lentz, BS,
and Mari Millery, PHD

W

HEN COVID-19 FORCED THE SHUTDOWN

of many face-to-face health services, the
Northeast/Caribbean AIDS Education
and Training Center (NECA AETC) took
immediate action to create virtual mental health programming
for HIV care teams. Our goals were to help all levels of staff to: 1)
understand reactions to stress and anxiety that we experience
as members of the healthcare community; 2) review approaches
to burnout and compassion fatigue and address them in our
daily work; and 3) identify opportunities to build and maintain
the well-being of ourselves and our patients. Some of the
content for this programming had been developed following
the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and again when
Puerto Rico, part of our region (HHS Region II, which also
includes New Jersey, New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands),
was devastated by hurricanes. In each of these instances, we
mobilized the workforce of our HIV Behavioral Health Regional
Partner at Columbia University to bring their expertise to
the HIV healthcare teams that were struggling to continue
their work with patients in the face of disaster conditions that
affected everyone in our community simultaneously.
The HIV workforce has been called into action during the COVID-19
pandemic in a number of ways. Many healthcare workers with the
skills and expertise to treat HIV infection are responding to the medical
needs of patients with COVID-19. HIV researchers, both biomedical and
behavioral, have turned their attention to COVID-19 by studying who is
most adversely affected by SARS-CoV-2, how to mitigate those effects
and what the healthcare systems' response has been to the pandemic.
While some of this activity has been delivered in person, much of it

34 

MARCH 2021   HIVSPECIALIST  WWW.AAHIVM.ORG 

ISTOCK/ ALISA ZAHORUIKO


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HIV Specialist - March 2021

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