Welcome to Exclamation Point!,
the Alive! Maryland 
Monthly Newsletter

July 2023

Exclamation Point! is your straight-to-the-point monthly newsletter for Maryland's primary care and infectious disease workforce, brought to your inbox by Alive! MarylandEach month we will feature key trainings and webinars, upcoming events, job opportunities, and other resources to help you in your work. We'll also highlight some of the impactful work and diverse perspectives of your colleagues across the State. 

In this issue:

  • Points of View: Provider Perspectives
  • Action Points: Upcoming Events
  • Key Points: Featured Resources
  • Job Openings
  • Funding Opportunities

Want to spread the word about a job opening or funding opportunity from your organization? Know a special healthcare provider in Maryland who deserves the spotlight? Let us know by contacting info@AliveMaryland.org. Alive! Maryland is here to help you help Marylanders!

Click "[Message clipped] View entire message" at bottom of your page to read the newsletter in its entirety.


Points of View: Provider Perspectives

Each month we will highlight a Maryland provider in this section whose work is helping bring the State alive. If you have a colleague you think deserves some appreciation, let us know! Please email info@AliveMaryland.org and include the provider's name, role and affiliation, and contact details. We'll then reach out to your colleague with some brief interview questions.

Dedra Spears-Johnson (she/her), Executive Director at Heart to Hand, Inc.

While sexual health and wellness are important for all, factors such as stigma and a lack of cultural inclusivity can lead to disparities in sexual health for certain populations.

In 1999, Dedra Spears-Johnson and her best friend Sally Joseph noticed that Black women were neglected in efforts to combat HIV despite being disproportionately affected. This led them to found Heart to Hand, Inc., a community-based organization in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

Since then, Heart to Hand has infused sexual health care with love and culture, leading Prince George’s County in free and low-cost sexual health services. Dedra Spears-Johnson, who currently serves as the organization’s Executive Director, hopes to help transform the HIV landscape in Prince George’s County and in the state of Maryland as a whole.

Read the interview below to learn more about her passions and hopes for the future!


Action Points: Upcoming Events

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month - July 2023

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is observed each July to bring awareness to the unique struggles that racial and ethnic minority communities face regarding mental illness in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for racial and ethnic minority groups to get access to mental health and substance-use treatment services.

Throughout the month, the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) will focus on promoting tools and resources addressing the stigma about mental health among racial and ethnic minority populations, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

OMH encourages state, tribal, and local leaders, community-based organizations, faith leaders, healthcare providers and individuals to educate your communities regarding mental health stigma.

Visit this web page during National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month for shareable social media messages, downloadable graphics, and health resources. Follow us on Twitter Exit DisclaimerInstagram Exit Disclaimer, and Facebook Exit Disclaimer, and sign up Exit Disclaimer for OMH newsletters for additional updates.

Check out the OMH Knowledge Center online catalog Exit Disclaimer for publications and resources that highlight the importance of spreading awareness on how to avoid and help dissipate mental health stigma in minority communities.


Strategies to Address Intersectional Stigma - Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Living with HIV can be challenging in many regards. People living with HIV are complex individuals who are more than their viral loads and treatment regimens. They often face a variety of stigmatizing situations. Additionally, intersectional stigmas further complicate the lives and health outcomes of people living with HIV.

Join HealthHIV and the Alive! Maryland program on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 at 1:00pm ET for an interactive webinar that will discuss strategies for considering the multiple stigmas patients face and how to minimize their impact.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this webinar, you will be able to:

  • Describe different types of stigmas and how they can affect people living with HIV.
  • Identify ways to reduce or eliminate the use of stigmatizing language.
  • Address the effects of stigmatizing terms and phrases on healthcare and patient outcomes.
  • Discuss intersectional stigma and the importance of addressing each patient as an individual.

Please note that continuing education credits are not available for this event.

If you are unable to attend the live event, you still need to register so that, after the live event has ended, you receive an email with access to the recording as well as links to download materials. 


Zero HIV Stigma Day - Wednesday, July 21, 2023

Zero HIV Stigma Day is observed on July 21st and is a day to unite communities to help raise awareness about HIV stigma and learn about ways to help stop it.

  • Observance of this day is in honor of the first Black South African woman to publicly share her HIV status, Prudence Mabele.
  • To help stop HIV stigma, it is important to be intentional in choosing non-stigmatizing language when talking about people living with HIV.
  • Stopping HIV stigma is essential in ensuring people are not afraid of experiencing discrimination when getting tested or treated for HIV.

Click below to learn more about HIV in Maryland.


World Hepatitis Day - Wednesday, July 21, 2023

It’s not too early to start planning for World Hepatitis Day. Every year, we observe the day to focus attention on the huge impact of viral hepatitis infection globally – with more than 350 million people worldwide living with either chronic hepatitis B or C. Organizations around the world, and across the United States, participate in World Hepatitis Day to raise awareness of the problem and what needs to be done to strengthen efforts in prevention, screening, and control of viral hepatitis. Please join us by checking out the World Hepatitis Day website for more information and to find materials to share with your networks.


Key Points: Featured Resources


Capacity Building Assistance from Alive! Maryland

Our Point-to-Point Team is here to make capacity building assistance (CBA) work for you. Point-to-Point is your CBA resource for the State of Maryland’s HIV, viral hepatitis, STIs, and harm reduction workforce and your organizations as you continue the fight against the epidemics in Maryland.

We offer capacity building assistance in the following areas:

  • Organizational Infrastructure
  • Fiscal Administration
  • Data Collection Management and Reporting
  • Service Provision
  • And more!

To request capacity building assistance from Alive! Maryland, click the button to the left or visit AliveMaryland.org/cba.


Identifying and Addressing Implicit Biases in Healthcare

Implicit biases involve associations outside conscious awareness that can lead to negative, inaccurate, or unfair evaluations of a person on the basis of identity or social status. Evidence indicates that healthcare professionals exhibit the same levels of implicit bias as the wider population based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, and socioeconomic status. Provider bias can lead to poorer health outcomes in already-marginalized patients. It also influences a provider's approach to diagnosis, treatment, and levels of care.

This e-learning module discusses the difference between explicit and implicit biases, the types of bias present in healthcare, and how to identify and change these biases in yourself and others.  

1.5 continuing education credits (CME, CNE, CPE, AAPA, ASWB, APA, IPCE) are available for this activity.

This program has been approved by the Maryland Department of Health Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities to meet the requirements outlined in HB28 which establishes that all healthcare workers who hold licenses in the State of Maryland complete implicit bias training at least once before their licenses are renewed.


Promoting and Protecting Sexual Health During Pride Season

Maryland's various Pride events are in full swing, with the first Pride event celebrated in May, and others continuing through October. The Maryland Department of Health launched a statewide "Get Your Pride On" multi-platform ad campaign in English and Spanish in June to remind Marylanders to take pride in their sexual health. 

The key messages of the campaign promote getting mpox vaccinations, testing for HIV and STIs, and information about HIV PrEP. The ads, which direct viewers to contact their local health departments for these services, are appearing on dating apps, social media, digital billboards in select providers’ offices and pharmacies, and on buses and transit stations.

Keep an eye out for these ads and remember to take pride in your health! 


JH-WICY Virtual Toolkit Series

The JH-WICY Virtual Toolkit Series launched in 2020 to "engage and amplify" the voices and experts and optimize outcomes for women, infants, children, and youth (WICY) living with HIV/AIDS in the Baltimore EMA and beyond.

Available toolkit topics include:

  • Gender-affirming care
  • Breastfeeding while living with HIV
  • Interrupting perinatal HIV transmission
  • Trauma-informed care
  • Creating alternate spaces to engage and retain youth

View all past and upcoming webinars on YouTube by clicking the button below.


HIV Among Long-Term Survivors in Maryland

  • At the end of 2021, there were 4,371 long-term survivors living with diagnosed HIV in Maryland.
  • Of the 4,371 long-term survivors living with diagnosed HIV, 40.5 percent were diagnosed between 30-39 years old.
  • On average, long-term survivors have been living with diagnosed HIV for 29.6 years.
  • In 1996, the average age of those living with diagnosed HIV was 34.4 years old in comparison to 49.5 years old in 2021.

Click below for a downloadable fact sheet with more information about long-term survivors in Maryland.


"I Am a Work of Art" Campaign

“I am a Work of ART” is a community-informed national campaign designed to encourage people with HIV who are not in care for HIV to seek care, stay in care, and achieve viral suppression by taking antiretroviral therapy (ART). People with HIV who take HIV medicine (called antiretroviral therapy) as prescribed and get and keep an undetectable viral load can live long and healthy lives and will not transmit HIV to their HIV-negative partners through sex.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the campaign in June 2022, as part of the federal Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the overall viral suppression rate in the United States is 53%. Therefore, a key strategy to prevent new HIV transmissions is increasing the proportion of people with HIV who are virally suppressed.

Both the National HIV/AIDS Strategy and the EHE initiative aim to reduce new HIV infections in the United States by 90% by 2030.

Click below for more information.


What Do We Know About People with HIV Who Are Not Engaged in Regular HIV Care?  

A new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) analysis finds that between 2018 and 2020, one-in-five (21%) adults diagnosed with HIV were out of care. Compared to adults who were receiving regular HIV care, adults who were out of care were more likely to be Black and to report challenges in their interactions with the health system, multiple and complex barriers to accessing health care services, and unmet needs for ancillary care.


The MOM Program on Case Management

The MOM Program focuses on improving care for pregnant and postpartum Medicaid participants diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD). The MOM Program provides case management services to pregnant enrollees with OUD that will continue for one year following the end of pregnancy.

The MOM Program is grounded in the principle of supporting participants through a healthy pregnancy. The program’s success requires Marylanders across all sectors to identify and refer potential participants, provide access to critical health care services, and link participants with needed community resources to ensure access to proper healthcare for participants and their families.

Click below for more information on enrollment.


Progress Report for the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan

The 2021-2022 Progress Report for the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan summarizes progress during fiscal years 2021 and 2022 and highlights key actions supporting the goals of the Viral Hepatitis National Strategic Plan.  Additional information provided in the report includes:

  • An at-a-glance table of overall progress on the plan indicators based on 2020 data
  • High-level progress updates by federal agencies
  • A description of challenges and next steps
  • Tables of each indicator and progress toward 2025 targets

National Hepatitis C Elimination Program in the United States Fact Sheet

The Biden-Harris Administration put forward a bold 5-year program to eliminate hepatitis C in the United States. These efforts and investments are projected to save billions in health care spending within ten years, and prevent tens of thousands of cases of cancer, diabetes, kidney disease; and save thousands of lives.

This fact sheet covers high-level solutions to increase hepatitis C awareness, testing, treatment, and follow-up.

Federal Implementation of Updated Viral Hepatitis Screening and Vaccination Recommendations Webinar Recording

In case you missed it, we recently coordinated a webinar on federal implementation of the updated hepatitis B screening and testing recommendations, as well as provided updates on the hepatitis B vaccination and hepatitis C screening recommendations. Speakers included representatives from the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, Indian Health Service, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs. Please view our webinar recording.

Viral hepatitis is a serious, preventable public health threat that puts people who are infected at increased risk for liver disease, cancer, and death. Thank you for your efforts to support efforts to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat in the United States.


Job Openings

Fellowship Opportunity

An HIV Policy Research Fellowship within the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy (OIDP) is now accepting applications. Apply here for the opportunity to work with federal senior leadership to evaluate one of the most extensive HIV programs in the country, the Ending the HIV Epidemic in the U.S. (EHE) initiative. The fellowship is anticipated to begin on September 5, 2023. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until August 3, 2023. 

EHE is a bold plan to end the HIV epidemic in the United States. The selected individual will research, document, and evaluate understanding and awareness of EHE and the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (NHAS) by federal HIV program staff, HIV service community members, and other stakeholders to assess the effectiveness of program strategies, interventions, communications, and community engagement related to the implementation and execution of EHE, and other HIV-related policies.

For more details and to apply by August 3, 2023, click the button below.


Harm Reduction Liaison, MDH Local Health

Location: Carroll County

Description: This position will be responsible for implementing, overseeing, coordinating, training, collaborating, and collecting data for Carroll County. As a representative of the Carroll County Health Department's (CCHD) Bureau of Prevention, Wellness and Recovery, this position will collaborate with the Nursing Bureau within the CCHD to increase testing for HIV and Hepatitis C through outreach on the mobile RV Unit. This position will also facilitate community provider mapping, in order to determine the full range of Harm Reduction services and resources offered to people who use drugs.

Deadline: July 14, 2023


HIV/AIDS Case Manager, MDH Local Health

Location: Anne Arundel County

Description: The main purpose for the Community Health Nurse Case Manager (CHN Case Manager) is to provide intensive services directed toward the identification and remediation of barriers that interfere with a client’s ability to adhere to the needed medical services or following the planned medical treatments. CHN Case Manager will support activities that help clients to keep medical appointments, support activities that help clients appropriately follow their medication regimens and support activities that help clients successfully follow through on their care plans. The employee must have transportation available to work at off-site locations in Anne Arundel County. Employee will be provided with mileage reimbursement for the use of their personal vehicle for any traveling excess of their normal commute to their regular work site.

Deadline: July 14, 2023


Harm Reduction Programs Manager, MDH Infectious Disease & Environmental Health Services

Location: Baltimore City

Description: The main purpose of this full-time contractual position is to oversee administrative activities related to special projects, including the implementation of the STOP Act of 2022. This position will serve as the primary point of contact for questions related to the STOP Act implementation. This position will also be responsible for scheduling and leading meetings with entities named in the STOP Act, as well as for providing education about the STOP Act naloxone mandate. 

Deadline: July 17, 2023


Harm Reduction Epidemiologist, MDH Infectious Disease & Environmental Health Services

Location: Baltimore City

Description: This position will manage all stages in the monitoring and evaluation of harm reduction programs, in collaboration with other Evaluation Division members. This position will analyze Statewide data, in order to describe trends and evaluate changes in injection drug use-related morbidity and mortality, including infectious disease and overdose. Based on analyses of evaluation data, this position will recommend programmatic changes, in order to enhance the effectiveness of harm reduction programs across the State of Maryland. This position will maintain current knowledge of the fields of harm reduction and substance use disorder treatment, including best practices and available resources.

Deadline: July 25, 2023


Funding Opportunities

Hepatitis C Linkage to Care Services

This funding supports implementation and evaluation of novel hepatitis C linkage to care services in settings with high rates of hepatitis C infections, such as correctional facilities, substance use treatment programs, and syringe service programs. Our goal is to fund linkage to care interventions that improve hepatitis C treatment rates, reduce transmission, and reduce hepatitis C-related liver cancer and deaths among people who are disproportionately impacted by hepatitis C.

If you are interested in applying, please view our webinar recording for potential applicants and read the full NOFO announcement. The application due date is August 2, 2023, at 6:00 PM Eastern.


Point of Contact

Please reach out to Melissa Kelley, Alive! Maryland Program Director, at info@AliveMaryland.org with
any questions, feedback, or submissions. For all CDC specific related training and technical assistance CTS Tracking Requests, you may contact Tawanna DavisTawanna.Davis@maryland.gov

Click the button below to request capacity building assistance for your organization.


About Alive! Maryland

The Maryland Department of Health engaged with HealthHIV to launch Alive! Maryland. ALIVE! stands for Assess, Learn, Integrate, Visualize, Engage — representing each phase of the program.

Alive! Maryland is a motivational call to action to build capacity to improve health in Maryland. This initiative will provide Maryland providers with a web-based, self-paced virtual training institute, many CEU opportunities, direct training and technical assistance, and resource development. All resources, trainings, and tools are free and housed on a user-friendly and accessible website: AliveMaryland.org. 



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