C2P and the ATN
Connect to Protect® (C2P) is a research initiative that is seeking to mobilize communities around the country to examine the root causes of HIV among young people (13-24 years old) and develop long-term solutions to preventing the spread of HIV. It was launched in 2001 with the purpose of linking local researchers and community members around the growing crisis of HIV/AIDS among youth. Supported by the National Institute of Health (NIH), it is one of the largest national research studies of its kind in scope and objective. The mobilization effort brings together diverse sectors of the community to form a coalition and local strategic plan focused on reducing HIV risk by making structural changes. These structural changes include changes in programs, laws, policies and practices on the community, city and state level.
Several papers have been published related to the C2P work (please visit our “Publications” page), and more specific information about the local work of community partners is available by visiting the “C2P Coalitions” page.
C2P is part of the nationwide “Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN).” The researchers involved in C2P and the ATN are adolescent medicine and community health specialists who work in various urban areas and are committed to preventing illness and disease among young people. The ATN has 15 sites around the country.
For more information about the ATN, please visit www.atnonline.org.
What are Structural Changes?
HIV has a powerful impact on young people. About one-third of all new HIV infections each year occur in people under age 29. To address the HIV epidemic, creative prevention strategies have evolved to tackle the many factors associated with HIV risk. The strategies can be classified into three broad categories: individual level interventions, community level interventions and structural changes. All categories are important and often work best in combination to promote comprehensive and sustainable HIV prevention.
Connect to Protect coalitions focus specifically on creating structural changes. Structural changes modify features within the social and physical environment that affect HIV risk. The changes result in new or modified programs, practices or policies. Structural changes have a primary target of change, such as a law, but the effect of the change can be far reaching and doesn’t require the involvement of individuals in order for the change to occur. This is what makes structural changes powerful.
Let's look at a few examples:
- Changing the law to allow pharmacies to sell sterile needles (new policy)
- Extending the after-school hours of a health clinic to be more convenient for youth (modified practice)
- Offering a monthly HIV workshop in Spanish (modified program)
To bring about structural changes, it often requires the skills and knowledge of many different types of people in the community. Each of the Connect to Protect coalitions has identified structural changes that are needed and appropriate for their community. For more information about the local efforts, please visit the “C2P Coalitions” page, or go to “Resources” to see a summary list of structural changes accomplished by the C2P coalitions.
The National Coordinating Center (NCC) is located within the Johns Hopkins University, Department of Pediatrics and provides central management for the Connect to Protect® community research study, which is being conducted in 15 urban areas across the country.
The role of the NCC is to serve as an ‘auxiliary partner’ for the coalitions and offer technical assistance related to community mobilization, strategic planning, partner development and community outreach. The NCC reviews and analyzes data submitted by the coalitions on a regular basis and uses this to provide ongoing feedback to help coalitions shape their plans. The NCC also offers training resources and activities to coalitions on a range of topics, including logic modeling, grant writing, strategic planning, program evaluation & leadership. Finally, the NCC helps to ensure that components of the research are being adhered to and properly documented.
Coalition members are welcome to talk with their local C2P coordinator and suggest ways that the NCC may be help to assist the coalition’s work.
The Connect to Protect® work is supported by The Adolescent Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN) from the National Institutes of Health [U01 HD 040533 and U01 HD 040474] through the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (B. Kapogiannis, L. Serchuck)], with supplemental funding from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (N. Borek) and Mental Health (P. Brouwers, S. Allison). Connect to Protect has been scientifically reviewed by ATN’s Behavioral and Community Prevention Leadership Groups. Network, scientific and logistical support was provided by the ATN Coordinating Center (C. Wilson, C. Partlow) at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Network operations and analytic support was provided by the ATN Data and Operations Center at Westat, Inc. (J. Korelitz, B. Driver, R. Mitchell, M. Alexander, D. Monte).