Since 1999, CAI has overseen and administered LTI in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH), AIDS Institute (AI), and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH). To date, LTI has graduated over 3,200 PLWH across all 6462 counties in New York State.
CAI’s leadership and programming team has used an ever-evolving approach, with LTI’s capacity-building strategies to keep up with the latest trends and issues in HIV, Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction and Prep. LTI can be best described as a project that has evolved and can be defined by three distinct eras. The first era began in 1997 when CAI took oversight of LTI to address the inequities and disparities faced by communities of color based on economic status and gender that impact HIV treatment outcomes and AIDS-related mortality rates. In this initial era, CAI addressed these challenges by providing Core Training that aimed to provide PLWH with the knowledge and skills to influence policy, funding, and research. This initial curriculum was developed through a community-driven process that allowed PLWH to identify priority issues, including training and capacity building on advocacy, empowerment, and community and political engagement.
By 2007, HIV evolved to meet the needs of PLWHA’s to provide training on how to manage their HIV; the “new” chronic condition. LTI moved into its second era of programming from 2007-2013 that focused on building the capacity of PLWH to self-manage their HIV infection as a chronic disease. It was at this time LTI introduced its signature six-month peer-mentorship program that trains HIV-positive LTI graduates (selected by LTI administrators and trainers) to serve as mentors for new participants. Trained LTI mentors support trainees and hold them accountable in their personal efforts to adhere to medication and remain engage in care. During this period, LTI also developed supplementary curricula for youth ages 18-24 and incarcerated PLWH with less than a year of release back into the community.
In response to emerging evidence that PLWHA’s receiving timely HIV treatment could expect to live the average lifespan of an HIV- person and that gainful employment positively impacted the mental health and wellbeing, LTI evolved yet again. Beginning in 2014, the third era of the LTI evolution began.
Currently, LTI supports the long-term employability of PLWH with a specific focus on financial and economic self-sufficiency by operating as a component of the AI certification process that enables graduates to become eligible for employment in peer-based programs. The curricula for this third era of LTI, referred to as the “Foundational Training Series”, supports training in current relevant topics to address self-management of chronic conditions, HIV, Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction, Prep/Pep; with a special focus on transitioning from peer to employee. LTI also continues to support graduates in other post-LTI job pursuits through its statewide peer mentoring program.