A letter from the National Working Positive Coalition, endorsed by 114 organizations, was sent to the Rehabilitation Services Administration in support of retaining high standards for the vocational rehabilitation counseling workforce to meet the employment and vocational rehabilitation needs of eligible individuals with disabilities, including people living with HIV.
In the letter sent February 25, 2015, the National Working Positive Coalition is partnering with the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation (CSAVR) to advocate for the regulations now being developed to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to maintain standards for a qualified and effective vocational rehabilitation counseling workforce.
Many people living with HIV, and other disabilities, need to be able to access effective vocational rehabilitation services to achieve their goals for employment. The state-federal vocational rehabilitation services system is the most comprehensive employment resource for people with disabilities. Services include access to benefits counseling, comprehensive rehabilitation evaluation to determine skills, interests, and abilities, as well as case management, vocational counseling, employment services, assistance with finding and keeping a job, and on the job and other training/education.
Rehabilitation counselors can also authorize medical referrals, job training, and supportive rehabilitation services, including mental health counseling, if these services will remove barriers to employment. Individuals with disabilities, including people living with HIV, often face significant barriers to employment including dealing with complex medical and psychological aspects of their diagnosis as well as social, educational, financial, legal, and vocational factors that can limit their ability to achieve viable employment outcomes that ensure continued access to care and improved economic and health outcomes.
This letter calls for regulations to be written based on the understanding that vocational rehabilitation (VR) counselors need to be appropriately trained to adequately address the complex and interconnected issues of individuals with disabilities, including people living with HIV.
Mark Misrok is proof of the promise of vocational rehabilitation for people living with HIV in the U.S. He started out as a client and volunteer at the Positive Resource Center in San Francisco in 1992 -- and three years later became its program director.
Today, as president of the National Working Positive Coalition board of directors, Misrok believes that "we cannot bring an end to AIDS without understanding and addressing the total person. We can't avoid responding to the social and economic determinants that powerfully influence health and prevention outcomes. And that includes addressing poverty, social marginalization, unemployment and underemployment."
Misrok spoke with TheBody.com about the realities and resources for people with HIV considering the worlds of work and benefits.
A Time for Change, A Time for Action
The HIV Prevention Justice Alliance (HIV PJA), National Working Positive Coalition and Positive Women’s Network - USA (PWN–USA) are uniting to act for economic empowerment by and for people living with HIV.
Together, we are changing the conversation – and the policies – of the HIV community from poverty to income, and from economic instability to security and independence.
Douglas Brooks, Director of the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP), must take immediate action to:
- Follow through on the commitments of the employment-related promises of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which calls for expanding employment opportunities for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and for collaboration, coordination and partnerships across federal agencies, and
- Launch a Federal Interagency Task Force on HIV/AIDS and Employment
Click here to learn more or click here to join us now!
NWPC presents on HIV and employment for PACHA
The NWPC participated in the meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) on February 28, 2014, invited to present a panel on HIV/AIDS and employment by the PACHA Disparities Subcommittee. Douglas Brooks, co-chair of the Subcommittee, served as moderator of the panel, which consisted of NWPC board members Dr. Liza Conyers, Associate Professor at Penn State University, and Chair of the NWPC Research Working Group, April Watkins, Assistant Director of Workforce Development at GMHC, and Mark Misrok, NWPC board president.
Dr. Conyers delivered this overview of research findings related to HIV and employment issues to help set the context for PACHA’s discussion and consideration of needed public policy initiatives to effectively implement the employment provisions of the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) and the HIV Care Continuum Initiative.
Focus of New Federal AIDS Policy Partnership (FAPP) Structural Interventions Work Group
The inaugural meeting of the Structural Interventions Work Group of the Federal AIDS Policy Partnership (FAPP) was held on April 24, 2014. This meeting marked the first joint national policy and advocacy effort among HIV housing, food and nutrition, and employment organizations working together to target the social and economic determinants of health important to HIV health and prevention outcomes in the U.S. National Working Positive Coalition (NWPC) board members and partners participate in FAPP and in its newly-formed Structural Interventions Work Group in support of the development of HIV/AIDS policy recommendations informed by employment-related needs of people living with HIV, research findings and effective service practices.
FAPP is a national coalition of local, regional, and national organizations advocating for progressive federal HIV/AIDS legislation and policy. Much of FAPP’s policy and advocacy work is accomplished through six FAPP-affiliated working groups: AIDS Budget and Appropriations Coalition, HIV Health Care Access Working Group, HIV Housing Working Group, HIV Prevention Action Committee, Research Working Group, and Ryan White Work Group.
Recently, the co-chairs of the Housing Working Group approached leaders in the fields of Food and Nutrition (FNS) and Employment to suggest an expanded working group focused together on addressing the structural interventions needed to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and to achieve better health outcomes for those living with HIV/AIDS. After discussions with colleagues, the three groups decided to launch the Structural Interventions Working Group of FAPP.
Click here for more information about FAPP.
For more information about the Structural Interventions Work Group of FAPP, contact Mark Misrok, President of the NWPC Board of Directors.
The National Working Positive Coalition is a coalition of individuals living with HIV, service providers, researchers, and advocates who are committed to improving the financial and personal wellbeing of individuals living with HIV and AIDS. To achieve this goal we (a) promote research to better understand the financial needs and complex challenges facing individuals with HIV; (b) promote the development and evaluation of effective practices in employment services and (c) advocate for work options and access to financial resources that are most consistent with the personal and health needs of individuals living with HIV. READ MORE