National convening to focus on HIV/AIDS and employment

April 19, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Liza Conyers, professor of education (rehabilitation and human services) in the Penn State College of Education, is co-organizing a national convening that will attempt to address employment issues faced by individuals with HIV/AIDS.

Liza Conyers

Liza Conyers

IMAGE: Penn State

The National Convening on HIV & Employment will be held via Zoom from 1 to 5 p.m. on April 20-21. The purpose of the event is to connect expert stakeholders at the intersection of HIV/AIDS and employment to share information about current service practices, policy and research, and to generate recommendations to strengthen responses to the employment needs of people living with or at greater vulnerability to HIV.

The convening is a project of the National Working Positive Coalition (NWPC), presented in partnership with Penn State and the U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus, with the support of ViiV Healthcare, a pharmaceutical company specializing in the development of therapies for HIV infection. Mark Misrok (NWPC/HIV Caucus) and Conyers (NWPC/Penn State) are serving as co-chairs.

“This convening was conceptualized and planned within the disability rights framework of ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ centering the voices of people living with HIV in every aspect of the leadership, planning and implementation,” said Conyers. “I look forward to the discussions and to advancing recommendations to significantly strengthen access to employment services and economic opportunities for those most impacted by racial, economic and health inequities.”

Conyers, a faculty member in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education, is a national expert in HIV/AIDS and employment policy, as well as the impact of vocational rehabilitation on health and public health outcomes, social determinants of health, psychosocial and cultural aspects of disability, and program evaluation of integrated vocational and HIV prevention interventions.

A key aspect of Conyers' research relates to gaining a better understanding of the impact of employment and vocational services on both personal and public health outcomes for individuals living with HIV. In 2018, she was appointed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf to the State Board of Vocational Rehabilitation and she currently serves as the co-principal investigator for the Pennsylvania Expanded HIV Testing Initiative and for the HIV and hepatitis component of the State Opioid Response grant.

During the convening, participants will engage in discussion in breakout groups organized by primary expertise/affiliation: policy, research, service delivery and community advocacy. Each group will discuss key issues to consider and develop a set of recommendations that will then be reported back for discussion along with next steps by the full group of participants.

“This convening will lead to the development of a white paper that will inform implementation of the employment-related provisions of the HIV National Strategic Plan (2021-2025), as well as provide recommendations for the implementation science division of ViiV Healthcare,” said Conyers.

In organizing the convening, Misrok and Conyers are collaborating with a Leadership Planning Team, including Tori Cooper (Human Rights Campaign), Ronald Johnson (U.S. People Living with HIV Caucus), Vanessa Johnson (Red Ribbon Consulting/NWPC), Cody Lopez Dryer (Black Advocates Leading Revolutions), the Rev. Nicholas Love (World Institute on Disability), Alphonso Mills (Positive Impact Health Centers), Dylan Orr (director of the Office of Labor Standards, City of Seattle), Luis Scaccabarozzi (Latino Commission on AIDS), and Dafina Ward (Southern AIDS Coalition).

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 21, 2021