STIs and HIV tend to affect marginalized communities that can be harder to access. This study describes some features of community-based peer navigation, which can help reach these communities more effectively.
Sexually transmitted infections and HIV, in particular, affect young gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men GBMSM, along with transgender women of color, more than other populations. Community-based peer navigators are individual community members that can participate in the research process as well as in the implementation of preventative methods at the community level.
These techniques can help preventative interventions achieve more widespread use, while also allowing heavily afflicted populations to gain a better understanding of the resources available to them in a way that they can relate with. This article, published in the journal Health Expectations, analyzes the experiences of peer navigators working in a bilingual multilevel intervention program in order to isolate and determine the effectiveness of these programs, as well as additional opportunities in this field.
How Community Navigation Works: Key Elements in Community Intervention
Community Navigators had a mean age of 31.4 years. The race of participants varied, with 5 Latine, 7 African American/Black, 2 multiracial, and 1 Asian American. Several key themes were discovered in the work that these navigators engage with, including being part of the community they serve, being connected to other navigators, and training in problem-solving and sustaining interventions. Navigators noted that having an official title, especially one linked to a well-known institution, as well as having formal training, helped provide reassurance to community members about the care and information they would receive.
Understanding Why Community Navigator-Based Intervention Is Effective
The discussions with Community Navigators make clear the strengths of this type of intervention when it comes to raising community awareness and providing information about sexual health and social determinants of health. A key element of the success of this intervention program was the navigators’ ability to create deeper connections with members of their social network, and then build on these to be able to discuss sensitive topics that community members could then benefit from.
This aligns with findings from other studies that point to community-based peer navigation as especially effective with marginalized communities affected by health disparities. This is primarily because these peer navigators can tailor their work to the specific, unique needs of these communities. The information provided by Community Navigators provides key insights into what works in peer-based interventions such as this, which can help guide future programs and research.
Arvizu, J. a. R., Mann-Jackson, L., Alonzo, J., Garcia, M., Aviles, L. R., Smart, B., & Rhodes, S. D. (2023). Experiences of peer navigators implementing a bilingual multilevel intervention to address sexually transmitted infection and HIV disparities and social determinants of health. Health Expectations. https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13698