Welcome to the In It Together Health Literacy Project. In It Together is a training initiative designed to help health professionals incorporate health literacy approaches into their services. The ultimate goal is to improve engagement and retention in HIV care and treatment.
There are two In It Together training initiatives:
- Improving Health Literacy for All: Designed for health professionals serving a diverse spectrum of people living with and at risk for HIV
- Improving Health Literacy for Black MSM: Designed for health professionals serving Black/African American gay, bisexual, same gender loving men, and other men who have sex with men (MSM)
What is health literacy?
Health literacy describes how people find, understand, and use information to make appropriate decisions about the health. Health literacy is key to quality, safety, and equity in health care. A person’s health literacy level can fluctuate, and people who normally have proficient or high health literacy can experience periods of limited health literacy. If a person is stressed, anxious, scared, sick, tired, or hungry, they may not be able to find, understand and use the health information they are given to make important decisions about their care and treatment.
Why is health literacy important?
If a person is experiencing limited health literacy, they may find it difficult to fully understand or act upon the health information and guidance they receive. They may not understand why, how, or when they need to take their medication, which will prevent them from experiencing viral suppression and achieve other health goals. They may not attend their follow-up appointments, which will prevent their care team from receiving the information they need to monitor the person’s progress in care. The person may not understand how to recognize and report side effects, which can cause them to stop taking their medication instead of meeting with their health provider to discuss alternate treatments.
For people living with HIV, limited health literacy can become a barrier to effective care and treatment, which is why health literacy is essential if we want to improve health outcomes along the HIV care continuum.