Welcome to In It Together: National Health Literacy Project for Black MSM. In It Together is a health literacy training initiative for health care professionals serving black/African American Men who have Sex with Men (MSM). In It Together is designed to increase health professionals’ understanding and use of health literacy strategies and approaches that impact engagement and retention in HIV care and treatment.
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, he may not be able to find, understand and use the health information he is given to make important decisions about his care and treatment.
Why is health literacy important?
If a person is experiencing limited health literacy, he may find it difficult to fully understand or act upon the health information and guidance he receives. He may not understand why, how or when he needs to take his medication, which will prevent him from experiencing viral suppression. He may not attend his follow-up appointments, which will prevent his care team from receiving the information they need to monitor his progress in care. He may not understand how to recognize and report side effects, which can cause him to stop taking his medication instead of meeting with his 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.