Policy Projects

The Weitzman Institute is interested in addressing and understanding current barriers faced by people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in receiving oral care. PLWHA experience more oral health problems and complications compared to their non-infected counterparts.

To do this, we are creating a representative Taskforce comprised of people living with HIV/AIDS and patient advocates that work closely with PLWHA or are familiar with HIV/AIDS advocacy and community work. We want to hear from the patients and those working closely with them about some of the issues faced in receiving dental care and how we can improve access to routine oral care. Discussions from the Taskforce will help inform a three-part policy brief series. We will also host a webinar to launch the policy brief series.

Exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis, homelessness is a major public health challenge facing 4.2 million youth across the U.S. that disproportionately impacts LGBTQ+ youth and youth of color. Examining and solving for the links between social determinants of health, such as housing insecurity, and health outcomes is a core component of the work we do at Weitzman. Thanks to the generous support of the Aetna Foundation, “Addressing the Health and Health-Related Social Needs of Homeless Youth” is Weitzman’s newest community-based participatory research project in New Britain, CT. This is a unique opportunity for young people who have experienced housing insecurity to examine the web of factors contributing to homelessness through the art forms of photography and storytelling, with a primary focus on youth of color and LGBTQ+ youth experiencing housing insecurity. Using a technique known as photovoice, participants were trained in photography and provided cameras to capture visual representations of their everyday lives. Their pictures and stories bring their concerns to life, and urge community leaders and policymakers to take action.

We work strategically with over 25 local partner organizations and government agencies to identify the health-related challenges causing youth homelessness and put together materials (e.g. podcasts, policy briefs, etc.) that increase policymakers’, practitioners’, and researchers’ knowledge of best practices to improve health outcomes among this population.