Background: The Open-Table Model (OTM) is a poverty transformation model utilizing volunteers to help others live well holistically. It has been adapted to serve HIV+ persons living in poverty to develop productive self-sustaining lives. Volunteers from faith communities invest their vocational/life experiences and networks to develop and implement a life plan that alleviates poverty and enhances the client's ability to adhere and stay in HIV care.
Methods: OTM integrates best clinical practices to enhance retention and viral suppression. The HIV+ client must live in poverty and be ready for change – determined via evaluation for preparation/action stage of the stages of change. A table consists of 8-10 volunteers and has access to a clinical case manager, peer navigator, table coach, and other social support. Tables have hourly weekly meetings for one year.
Results: Since 2013, seven tables served eight clients (4 females and 4 males) and 17 immediate family members. Five graduated successfully, two are in process, and one dropped out. OTM is laborious as it requires intensive outreach to faith communities. Identifying eligible clients can retard the process when determining the client’s readiness versus need, extending the process to meet anticipated needs. However, the impact of OTM cannot be underestimated. The five graduates are adherent, virally suppressed, employed, have better financial management, stronger relationships, better coping mechanisms and sought continuing education. Table members are positively impacted too as they learn about life circumstances and the cycle of poverty that their outlook on life is completely changed. OTM is instrumental in eliminating stigma and discrimination. There has also been increased inter-denominational collaboration among congregations that have never worked together before.
Conclusions: OTM is successful in promoting better health outcomes, retention and viral suppression. Next steps are to use OTM as a preventative strategy for HIV high-risk persons by creating supportive relationships to live well.