About 50,000 people are newly infected with HIV each year. The rate of new infections has disproportionately impacted a number of marginalized populations including sex workers, Injection Drug Users (IDUs), men who have sex with men (MSM), young African American MSM, high-risk heterosexuals, transgendered persons, and other populations at high risk, such as those who are incarcerated or recently released from prison. This alarming rate not only provides insight into the severity of the epidemic but indicates the need for additional research, policies, and programming to inform best practices, new strategies, and the adaptation and development of interventions that are sensitive to the intricacies of these vulnerable populations.
LEADERSHIP & EXPERIENCE
Despite these challenges, Atlas Research has been able to successfully help clients articulate their vision and priorities, assess stakeholder needs and programmatic activities, provide implementation support, and use program data to improve performance for public and private agencies focusing on HIV/AIDS policies, prevention, and treatment. We offer a long history of collaboration with sites and venues providing HIV testing and linking programs, and have existing partnerships with national HIV/AIDS organizations, academic universities, community-based organizations, HIV clinics, and health departments. These partnerships and firsthand knowledge bring our team unparalleled access to People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWH) and those at increased risk for HIV across the full continuum of care, from prevention to testing, to linkage and retention, to care.
Atlas has vast experience in designing and conducting HIV-related assessment projects to improve program effectiveness and efficiency for a range of federal agencies. Our team members have successfully completed more than two dozen projects during which we gained access to hard-to-reach populations, including MSM, IDUs, high risk heterosexuals, PLWH, sex workers, and Veterans (including women, rural, minority, homeless, and justice-involved). As part of this work, Atlas has led the following projects.
Understanding Barriers and Facilitators Experienced by HIV Care Providers
This is a qualitative research project designed to explore the barriers and facilitators to HIV engagement, retention, and referrals noted by HIV care providers in an effort to understand how HIV care providers and the issues they experience influence HIV care and treatment. Atlas designed instruments, developed a sampling plan for facility and provider recruitment, developed a data plan and study protocol, secured Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, and worked with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to obtain Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approvals. A final product included a manuscript which highlighted key facilitators and barriers encountered by provider when engaging patients in HIV care and treatment.
Barriers and Facilitators to Prevention, Care, and Treatment Among Transgender Women in Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; and Washington, DC
This project included a qualitative research study of transgender women and their care providers to improve understanding of the barriers and facilitators to HIV prevention, care, and treatment experienced by transgender women at the individual, interpersonal, and structural levels. For this project, the Atlas Team is conducting brief quantitative surveys and semi-structured qualitative interviews with 40 transgender women, 20 of whom are HIV-positive and 20 of whom are HIV-negative, and 10 of their medical and service providers. The study takes place in Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; and Washington, DC—some of the areas most highly impacted by the HIV epidemic.
Local Effectiveness Assessment Project (LEAP) Part I
A case study analyzing local HIV prevention and care efforts, barriers, and facilitators to controlling the HIV epidemic among MSM in the Philadelphia area, and opportunities to improve the response to the HIV epidemic among MSM comprise this project. The project included design of research protocols and qualitative/quantitative data collection instruments, interviews, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and a final report and manuscripts. Findings from in-depth key participant interviews, structured observations, and document review instruments will inform the larger LEAP project and provide an important and necessary link to the other LEAP activities, facilitating the development of theory to better understand the control of the HIV epidemic at local levels.
Inventory and Descriptive Analysis of Federal HIV and Viral Hepatitis Activities Focused on Black MSM
This project involves comprehensive background research, quantitative data collection from seven federal agencies, and qualitative interviews with 25 federal agency representatives. Research findings will highlight trends over the four-year period of study; distribution of activities by sponsor, type, geography, level of investment and other characteristics; promising practices for averting new HIV or Viral Hepatitis infections or improving treatment and care outcomes; and priorities for additional effort and collaboration among federal stakeholders.
SERVICES & PRODUCTS
Atlas Team members have a long history of utilizing diverse methods to conduct qualitative research, program assessment, and strategic planning activities to add depth and breadth to the understanding of complex issues related to HIV/AIDs prevention, treatment, and care including:
- Facilitating federal- and community-level strategic planning efforts;
- Conducting expert panels to identify key issues and develop recommendations;
- Conducting systematic reviews;
- Developing study protocols and data collection tools and instruments;
- Recruiting hard-to-reach populations (e.g., PLWH, MSM, IDUs);
- Conducting in-depth and semi-structured interviews;
- Facilitating focus groups, expert panels, and strategic planning sessions;
- Conducting document reviews, literature reviews, environmental scans, and landscape analyses;
- Designing and disseminating surveys;
- Developing observation methods;
- Obtaining Institutional Review Board (IRB), OMB, Certification and Accreditation (C&A), and Authorization to Operate (ATO) approvals;
- Conducting qualitative and quantitative analysis using NVivo 10.0 and SPSS;
- Conducting data collection and analysis training; and
- Developing manuscripts, reports, posters, and other deliverables for dissemination to stakeholders and other diverse audience.