Ok, give me the details.Every year, our area gets money directly from the federal government to help with the cost of HIV care and prevention in the Philadelphia area. (For care, this money covers Philly and eight surrounding counties. Prevention money is just for Philly.) The feds know that each city has different needs, so they ask every city to come up with its own plan for how they'll spend the money. That's where community planning comes in. We have one group that works on the care side (the Ryan White Planning Council, or RWPC), and one group that deals with prevention (soon to be the HIV Prevention Planning Group, or HPG). Both groups meet here at the Office of HIV Planning.
Great, but what do they do?For starters, they have a lot of meetings in our office. Each planning body has its own monthly meetings, plus committees to deal with specific issues or processes. Who comes to these meetings, you ask? At least two of our own staff, plus planning body members, HIV service providers, health department staff, and community members (including people living with HIV/AIDS). What's the point of all these meetings? To plan HIV services in our area.
The topics covered in each meeting vary, but they all have the ultimate goal of making HIV services better and more effective. We talk about the needs of the community, and sometimes we do surveys or focus groups to get more information. Other times we talk about the services and how they work. We also try to stay up to date on the latest news on funding, federal and local policy, and more. Our office takes the discussion from the meetings and works along with the health department to work some magic. We document the meetings, do research, and otherwise get a lot of the legwork done so the planning bodies can focus on making educated decisions. Then we bring our work back to whichever group requested it, so they can use that information as they plan the services.