In addition to being funded by the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute as a Regional Training Center (RTC), the Center for Public Health Education (CPHE) at Stony Brook University is the Peer Certification Academic Center (PCAC) for the NYS Peer Worker Certification Program in HIV, HCV, Harm Reduction and PrEP.
There is widespread recognition that peer-delivered engagements can play a significant role in improving health and wellness, especially for those living with complex chronic health or behavioral health conditions. Peers reflect the diversity of the people they serve and help to ensure that a person-centered approach is used to help navigate various health care systems. Peer professionals have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to provide services that can inspire, empower and support others through the lens of their commonalities, most often as a shared "lived experience." When two people have something in common, it creates a bond between them allowing for meaningful discussions about their mutual experiences.
For this certification program, a "peer" is defined as someone living with HIV, living with Hepatitis C (HCV) or have been successfully treated for HCV, have experience accessing harm reduction services (such as syringe exchange or opioid overdose prevention programs), or have used/are currently using Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP). Peer-delivered services bring unique value to individuals. Learning to grow and thrive while facing similar challenges allows Peer Workers to have a deep level of understanding and insight into the experience of those they serve and provides the basis for the helping relationship. By strategically sharing their stories, peers have the ability to share meaningful lessons learned on their wellness journey in a way that individuals can view as highly credible. As a member of a multi-disciplinary team, the distinct role of the Peer Worker is deemed critical to meeting New York State's goal of ending the AIDS epidemic.
Certification of HIV, HCV, Harm Reduction, and PrEP Peer Workers standardizes training requirements and is intended to support employment opportunities for people with HIV and HCV. Certification will help increase recognition of the important work that HIV, HCV, Harm Reduction, and PrEP Peer Workers perform. Certification is voluntary and the AIDS Institute recognizes that both certified and non-certified peers play an important role in AIDS Institute funded agencies and other health and human services programs.
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