Since its founding in 1987, the primary purpose of the AIDS Library, a program of the Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers, has been to ensure that accurate information gets into the hands of those who need it most. Over the past 30 years, we have watched as that information has changed forms, from medical journals to films, to websites and mobile apps. Now more than ever, we can leverage the power of online and mobile information technologies to reach people where they already are—in their communities. Our 2017/2018 AIDS Community Information and Outreach Project “Connect Up, Fight AIDS: Putting Tech, Info, and Resources Where Health Happens” is an exciting initiative that will work to strengthen the ability of frontline staff throughout the city of Philadelphia to support those who access their services to locate the highest quality health information using the NLM’s MedlinePlus, AIDSInfo, AIDSource, and other online and print resources.
Critical health information needs to be easy to find where people live, work, learn, and play. In order to most effectively address HIV in Philadelphia, local communities must have access to treatment and prevention resources. We spent the first quarter of this project developing a training curriculum for non-medical frontline staff from a variety of city services including public computing centers (the KEYSPOTs), public libraries (the Free Library of Philadelphia), and rec centers.
While we will focus our outreach to the frontline staff in Philadelphia neighborhoods most impacted by HIV, we anticipate this training will have broad appeal. Our training goals are for public library staff, computer lab assistants, digital literacy and adult education instructors, and others to 1) learn how to conduct health-specific reference interviews; 2) gain a baseline knowledge of HIV, PrEP, and parallel health issues such as opioid addiction and hepatitis c; and 3) learn how to leverage NLM online resources to answer requests for health information from the Philadelphians they serve every day. These training’s aim to produce community-based experts who will bring these new skills and resources back to their local neighborhoods and customize those resources to best fit those who use their computer lab, take their adult education courses, or visit their library branch.