Written by Kim Furlow, communications manager for the Institute for Public Health
Ginger McKay, PhD, assistant professor and Institute for Public Health faculty scholar is passionate about eliminating infectious diseases by using evidence-based research and interventions that work. So, when a funding opportunity arose that would boost a program serving women living with HIV/AIDS, she and colleague Kneeshe Parkinson with the International Community of Women Living with HIV, rose to the challenge and were awarded the three-year grant.
In addition to their duties at WashU, McKay and Parkinson work with the Fast Track Cities St. Louis (FTC) initiative aimed at eliminating HIV/AIDS by 2030. With FTC support, McKay and Parkinson will use the grant to bring to St. Louis the international program, Healing Together for Women Living with HIV.
McKay describes Healing Together as, “A retreat-style program that brings women together for intense self-reflection and education on living with HIV.” The idea is to reduce stigma and dismantle structural barriers to living a healthier life. “Through the grant, we will be able to help implement Healing Together for 10 women each year for three years,” McKay said. “Program participants will receive the support they need to help foster well-being, social supports and the empowerment of ‘community’ for women living with HIV.”
McKay also leads the Infectious Disease – Dissemination and Implementation Science (IDDI) Initiative at the Institute for Public Health, which works to improve evidence-based prevention and treatment of infectious diseases. IDDI will act as an additional support for Healing Together.
Through IDDI, we will be able to serve in an evaluation role and provide general support to the program. Evaluating programming is so important to help ensure that services are working as intended.Ginger McKay, PhD, coordinator for IDDI
In the program’s second year, McKay says her team hopes to include transgender women “to provide more inclusive programming for all communities impacted by HIV.”