Leadership Training Institute (LTI)

Summary: This project is a peer-to-peer training program “by and for” the New York State community of people with HIV. The continually evolving project fosters the development of knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy among people with HIV to manage their health and advocate for themselves.

Opportunity: Almost four decades after the start of the HIV epidemic, incredible progress has been made in how we treat and prevent spread of the virus. Part of the success of the response to HIV has been the longstanding priority placed on involving people living with HIV in the response. Unfortunately, not everyone affected by HIV has had the same opportunity to have a seat at the table or equitable access to information and treatment. Many members of the priority population have low health literacy, are facing debilitating levels of stigma, have never engaged in public speaking or participated in planning processes, and have not been employed in the workforce. They need support to develop a broad array of knowledge and skills to fulfill these roles effectively. The New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute helped develop the Leadership Training Institute (LTI) as part of its ongoing commitment to supporting people living with HIV/AIDS.

Initiative: Since 1992, the New York State People Living with HIV/AIDS Leadership Training Institute (LTI) has served as a visionary mechanism for promoting the capacity, leadership, and input of people living with HIV in policy and programmatic decision-making. LTI is a service delivery program that provides training and peer mentoring support to HIV-positive individuals across New York State. It is also a leadership incubator that serves as a safe space and springboard for graduates to develop personal and professional goals and serve their communities. Under CAI’s administration since 1997, the focus of LTI has expanded in response to the changing epidemic. It initially focused on providing people living with HIV with knowledge and advocacy skills to influence policy, funding, and research. In 2007, it expanded to also help build the capacity of people with HIV to self-manage their health, and more recently it is focusing on economic self-sufficiency, supporting long-term employment of people with HIV. LTI has also grown to include people with Hepatitis C and substance use disorder, as well as people using the prevention medication PrEP. Across all of these phases, CAI has used a community-driven process that allows people with HIV to identify priorities and shape LTI’s work. CAI has demonstrated its ability to ensure that LTI addresses the needs of all populations affected by HIV, HCV, and substance use, including people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and residents of all parts of New York State.

Impact: More than 3,200 people living with HIV have graduated from the LTI training program. LTI helps improve the self-management skills of participants, which in turn increases rates of service uptake, retention in services, and treatment success. The program builds participants’ capacity to shape prevention, healthcare, and social services delivery systems across New York State, and helps organizations that hire program participants develop structures, processes, and systems to integrate them into the workplace and ensure they earn a living wage. LTI also helps these organizations secure Medicaid reimbursements.

Project funder: This project is funded by the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute.

Project contact: Rusty Chambliss, Director: lti.contact@caiglobal.org.