WASHINGTON — Thanks to $155,000 in grant investments from AIDS United, six community-based organizations in Puerto Rico will have expanded capacity for vital HIV prevention services in one of the most disproportionately-affected areas in the United States and its territories. The support from AIDS United comes from a funding partnership with Johnson & Johnson, H. Van Ameringen Foundation, MAC AIDS Fund, Merck Corporation, and Elton John AIDS Foundation.
The projects receiving AIDS United support include peer‐based, in-person education and counseling outreach; syringe services programs; and social media outreach, designed to reach the populations most highly impacted by the epidemic on the island, including injection drug users, women, homeless individuals and youth, particularly young men who have sex with men, (MSM).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2010, Puerto Rico ranked in the top 10 AIDS case rates among all states and territories in 2010; had an HIV death rate higher than any U.S. state or territory; and had a rate of HIV infection of 33.8, compared with the United States’ total rate of HIV infection of 19.7.
“These new investments help further AIDS United’s longstanding commitment to addressing the disproportionate severity of the HIV epidemic in Puerto Rico,” said Michael J. Kaplan, AIDS United President and CEO. “Through this unique funding pool, more than $675K has been invested since 2008. We are continuously communicating with community‐based organizations and advocates about how we might best meet the HIV prevention programming needs there. Ensuring that Puerto Rico has the resources and the capacity-building assistance it needs to aggressively respond to HIV brings AIDS United even closer to fulfilling our mission to end the HIV epidemic in the United States.”
The Puerto Rico grantees are:
- Family Planning Association of Puerto Rico/PROFAMILIA, Ponce, PR
For a “train-the-trainer” program in the southwestern region of Puerto Rico. The program will educate former participants how to conduct outreach and programming for sexual and reproductive health services and work with vulnerable and resource-deprived communities.
- Hogar Fortaleza del Caido, Loíza, PR
To coordinate with community leaders in Loíza and Canóvanas to conduct outreach activities to male and female injection drug users and/or homeless individuals. By providing HIV prevention education and counseling session, the program aims to reduce stigma associated with HIV/AIDS and promote healthy behaviors and lifestyles.
- Migrant Health Center, Mayagüez, PR
For a Syringe Exchange Project in the Western region of Puerto Rico that will provide a place for injection drug users to dispose of used syringes and obtain sterile syringes at no cost; related prevention, counseling, and care services will also be provided.
- Puerto Rico Community Network for Clinical Research on AIDS, San Juan, PR
In support of a peer outreach program for young men that have sex with men (YMSM) from 13 to 29 years old from the San Juan Metropolitan Area that will use social networking, smart phone apps, LGBT-oriented forums, and traditional outreach at high-risk venues as recruitment strategies for HIV prevention education and testing.
- Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez – Main Campus, Turabo, PR
To expand the impact of the MSI Prevention Program (PASOS) Initiative that works to directly increase access to comprehensive, integrated substance abuse (SA), and HIV prevention, and early detection at the University of Turabo’s Main Campus. Graduate students of the Psychology program will offer compulsory HIV prevention modules to all freshman students in their Freshman Seminar Course as part of the health promotion section of the course.
- Taller Salud, Loíza, PR
To train youth peer health educators in developing creative strategies that encourage HIV/STI prevention as a real alternative for youth and provide resources that increase young people’s capacity to make responsible decisions when confronted with situations that involve sexuality and HIV/STI risk; venues include local discussion forums, a live webcast, and theater productions.
About AIDS United
Born out of the merger of the National AIDS Fund and AIDS Action in late 2010, AIDS United’s mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States. AIDS United combines strategic grant-making and capacity-building with national advocacy and regional organizing to ensure access to life-saving HIV/AIDS care and prevention services and to advance sound HIV/AIDS related policy for U.S. populations and communities most impacted by the epidemic. With a budget of over $15 million, AIDS United provided more than $7 million in grants last year supporting more than 400 AIDS organizations across the United States.
[From a News Release]