Methods. Aim 1: Authors analyzed nation-wide HR policy (e.g. syringe service program protections, ‘Good Samaritan' laws, Naloxone access laws, etc) and drug-related mortality data to articulate the shifting HR implementation context in the South from 2014-2019. Aim 2: To examine HIV service organization implementation of HR, authors surveyed Southern HIV service organizations (n=207 organizations) regarding implementation of specific HR services, HR training, and barriers to adopting an HR approach. Data were analyzed using frequency tables. Aim 3: Authors constructed logistic regressions, using state mortality data and policy context as predictors, to determine what contextual factors predicted HIV service organization implementation of HR.
Results. Increases in drug-related mortality in the South from 2014-2019 revealed an intensifying need for HR. HR policy data analysis additionally revealed an increased political openness to HR over that same period. Survey data indicated that approximately half of the HIV service organizations reported that their organizations reflect a HR orientation, and only 26% reported providing HR services. While only 36% of organizations had ever completed an organization-wide training in HR, 84% indicated interest in receiving such training. Logistic regressions revealed that while increased mortality rates did not predict HIV service organization implementation of HR, organizations in states with a HR-friendly policy context were more than twice as likely as those without such protections to have received training in HR (OR=2.31, p=0.02) and twice as likely to provide specific HR services (OR=2.28, p=0.05).
Conclusions and Implications. Study findings indicate a rapidly changing HR implementation context among Southern HIV service organizations wherein increased need has met increased political opportunity. However, there is a lag in HIV service organization’s ability to meet this opportunity and adopt HR approaches. Advocacy gains over the past eight years have facilitated the adoption of HR in some states, but financial resources, capacity building, and continued policy advocacy are required for increased HIV service organization adoption of HR.