End the Epidemics: Californians Mobilizing to End HIV, STIs, Viral Hepatitis, and Overdose (ETE) is a statewide coalition that advocates for anti-racist policies and funding priorities to eliminate health inequities among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) while working collaboratively to end the syndemic of HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), viral hepatitis, and overdose in California.
ETE was formed in April 2018 when public health and community leaders convened in Los Angeles to build support for a statewide strategy to end the HIV, STI, and hepatitis C epidemics. The convening was informed by previous statewide efforts, including California’s Integrated HIV Surveillance, Prevention, and Care Plan and Viral Hepatitis Prevention Strategic Plan. While these plans outlined important goals and recommendations, they did not adequately speak to the need for broad-based community engagement or the political will, resources, and strategic collaboration that will be required to address these epidemics effectively.
In March 2019, ETE issued a community consensus statement calling on Governor Newsom and the Legislature to develop and implement a statewide strategy to end the HIV, STI, and hepatitis C epidemics. ETE has since grown into a leading advocacy coalition with broad recognition and support from policymakers, local health departments, community-based organizations, and people most impacted by these conditions. With limited resources and capacity, the coalition has demonstrated great success in engaging impacted communities and other partners to educate key decision makers about the need for a comprehensive strategy to end the epidemics of HIV, STIs, viral hepatitis, and overdose (the coalition added hepatitis B and drug overdose to its mission in 2021).
What makes ETE innovative and unique – in addition to community leadership – is its ambitious goal of addressing these health conditions as a syndemic. A syndemic is a set of linked health problems that adversely interact with one another and exacerbate poor health outcomes. The coalition believes that effectively addressing HIV, STIs, viral hepatitis, and overdose requires a syndemic approach, which responds to these epidemics concurrently and addresses the structural inequities that allow them to thrive, including stigma, poverty, and unstable housing.
ETE has a formal structure and decision-making process that aims to center its work in racial justice and health equity. The Organizing Committee – which provides leadership and oversees coalition activities – includes organizations from around the state that represent the broad and diverse communities impacted by HIV, STIs, viral hepatitis, and overdose.
Members of the Organizing Committee include Access Support Network, APLA Health, California Hepatitis Alliance, DAP Health, Equality California, Essential Access Health, Long Beach Comprehensive HIV Planning Group, Los Angeles LGBT Center, National Harm Reduction Coalition, San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and SF Hep B Free. The Co-Chairs of the Organizing Committee are Jenna Haywood, Associate Director of Community Mobilization, National Harm Reduction Coalition and Richard So, Executive Director, SF Hep B Free.
ETE also has three Working Groups that provide opportunities for coalition members and people impacted by these conditions to engage more directly in coalition activities. The Racial Justice Working Group develops tools and resources to ensure that the coalition is centering racial and health justice in its decision-making and priorities. The Policy and Advocacy Working Group identifies and advances key administrative, legislative, and budget priorities. The Community Engagement Working Group mobilizes coalition members and people impacted by these conditions to educate decision makers, community members, and the general public about coalition priorities.
ETE strives to ensure a diverse membership that is reflective of the HIV, STI, viral hepatitis, and overdose epidemics and center impacted communities in positions of leadership. In 2020, the coalition established new guidelines to ensure at least 50% of leadership positions are held by BIPOC individuals. Working Groups also share a commitment to increasing involvement of BIPOC communities and all coalition members are responsible for centering racial and health justice in decision-making and priorities.
ETE works in close collaboration with the California HIV/AIDS Policy Research Centers, funded by the California HIV/AIDS Research Program, which are comprised of multi-disciplinary teams of investigators working in partnership with consumers, advocates, and policymakers to conduct policy-relevant research. This research produces new knowledge that can be applied to improve prevention and care services for people impacted by HIV, STIs, viral hepatitis, and overdose.