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Creating partnerships and building relationships with community-based organizations is critical to the success of rural HIV/AIDS programs.

Some rural health departments work with community-based organizations to implement HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services in the community because they know the population well. Rural HIV/AIDS programs may have a case manager, social workers, or patient navigator on the team who maintains relationships with all of the organizations in the community so it is possible to refer people to other organizations for support services.

Rural HIV/AIDS programs in health departments and community organizations also need strong relationships with substance abuse and mental health providers, as HIV and substance abuse have been closely connected – and people with substance use disorders also sometimes experience a mental health issue.