The NYS DOH, AIDS Institute Peer Worker certification process is intended to be a vehicle to improve client services while supporting employment opportunities for people living with HIV or Hepatitis C.
AIDS Institute certified Peer Workers are individuals with the lived experience of HIV, Hepatitis C or accessing harm reduction services.

  • The AIDS Institute will offer specific tracks to certify individuals as: 1) HIV Peer Workers, 2) Hepatitis C Peer Workers, or 3) Harm Reduction Peer Workers.  Individuals may choose more than one track.
  • Certification of HIV, HCV and Harm Reduction Peer Workers is intended to formalize training requirements and increase recognition of the important work that HIV, HCV and Harm Reduction Peer Workers perform.  Certification is voluntary and the AIDS Institute recognizes that both certified and non-certified peers will continue to play an important role in AIDS Institute funded agencies and other health and human services programs.
  • Many providers are aware of emerging Medicaid peer-delivered services models found in Health Homes, DSRIP Projects, Health and Recovery Plans (HARPs) and Harm Reduction Counseling Medicaid services awaiting Federal Approval.  These new models provide opportunities to expand service provision to include peer workers.  It is possible that, in the future, this AIDS Institute Peer Worker certification process will support these efforts.

In order to become certified, an individual must complete foundational peer readiness/ recovery training and then complete a minimum of 90 hours of training from the attached AIDS Institute Peer Worker Course Catalogue.  The required trainings prepare Peer Workers to assist clients with HIV/HCV/STD prevention, harm reduction, outreach, patient navigation and/or self-management services.

In addition to completing these training requirements, in order to become certified, a peer worker must:

  • pass a knowledge test
  • agree to abide by the NYS AIDS Institute Peer Worker Code of Ethics
  • be selected by an agency for possible hiring and successfully complete a 500 hour practicum delivering peer services (or alternatively, current relevant work experience with a supervisor’s evaluation may take the place of completing a practicum).

Training programs that lead to AIDS Institute Peer Worker certification are being offered this fall and winter and it is anticipated that the first wave of peer workers will be certified by the Spring of 2016.

Current Peer Workers

The AIDS Institute recognizes that there are a significant number of peer workers who are currently employed, receiving stipends, or serving as volunteers on a regular basis. 

AIDS Institute contractors and Medicaid Providers are now being invited to inform individuals currently working as Peer Workers to contact HIV Education and Training Programs at 518-474-3045 if they are interested in pursuing AIDS Institute Peer Worker certification.

Individuals who are currently employed, receiving stipends or who regularly volunteer are the intended audience for spaces in the first round of the required Peer Worker Pre-Certification trainings and other trainings that are described below.  Currently employed peer works should be informed that becoming certified is not a requirement for continued employment at this time.

Upcoming Training for Peer Workers Who Seek to Become Certified

  • Peer Certification Course Catalog
  • Training Calendar for Key Peer Certification Courses

Two important new trainings for Peer Workers will be offered by the AIDS Institute in the coming weeks:

  1. New York State AIDS Institute Pre-Certification Peer Worker Training

All individuals who seek to become certified and are put forth by an agency for employment or stipend work as a Certified Peer Worker must complete this course.  This requirement will apply to HIV, HCV and Harm Reduction Peer Workers.  AIDS Institute staff will screen all individuals seeking to register for this course.  In order to register, the individuals must have completed foundational/ recovery readiness training and be associated with a specific agency where the person is either currently employed, receiving a stipend or volunteering regularly OR the agency is prepared to host the individual for a 500 hour practicum with the possibility of employment at the successful completion of the 500 hour practicum.

2.  Peer Workers Promoting Primary Care and Treatment Adherence for HIV         

All individuals seeking to become HIV Peer Workers must complete this course as part of their 90 hours of training.  This course is considered a specialized training for individuals seeking to be certified as an HIV Peer Worker.

Capacity Building Series:  Preparing Health Care Facilities and Community Agencies to Implement Peer –Delivered Services using AIDS Institute Certified Peer Workers

Additional Information:

If you would like more information or have questions regarding the AIDS Institute’s effort to certify HIV, HCV and Harm Reduction Peer Workers, please contact HIV Education and Training Programs at 518-474-3045 or email

Approval of Foundational Training Programs

If your agency is involved in peer education or training Peer Workers and you believe that your program is consistent with the standards outlined , please consider submitting the Foundational Training Curriculum Approval Form, to have your program officially approved by the AIDS Institute as a Foundational Training Program. Organizations that offer approved Foundational Training Programs will be listed on the peer certification tab at  to inform the general community and prospective peer workers of the availability of training from your agency.

Nominations for the Peer Certification Review Board

The AIDS Institute will convene a Peer Certification Review Board comprised of current or past Peer Workers.  The 7-9 person Review Board will be responsible for review and decision-making regarding applications for certification. Peer Certification Review Board Call for Nominations provides an overview of the Review Board and information about how to nominate a current or past Peer Worker to serve on the board.  Please consider submitting a nomination not later than January 15th.

Last Updated on January 25, 2020 by HepFree NYC

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