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Health People Launches Two Innovative HIV/AIDS Initiatives for High Risk Women

Expected to Serve as Model Programs for Other Affected U.S. Communities

Newswise - NEW YORK, February 11, 2014 - With the Bronx still having the highest rate of new women's HIV/AIDS cases of any New York City borough, Health People: Community Preventive Health Institute is engaged in two important new initiatives to provide prevention and services to women in greatest need. Both offer great potential to develop better strategies to assure the Bronx brings down its overall women's HIV/AIDS infection rate.

The first initiative, with Narco Freedom, a comprehensive Bronx drug treatment center as lead partner, focuses on treating women for trauma and abuse as part of their AIDS prevention and care. Health People will train peer mentors, who are themselves women in drug recovery, to encourage and help other women to stay in both drug treatment and trauma recovery services as they receive prevention counseling.

According to NYC Health Department, the Bronx has the most women living with HIV/AIDS of any borough - 10,300 or 32% of the city total women's cases. It also has 35% of the city's women's AIDS deaths.

"Women still at high risk of AIDS have tremendous other problems, including very high rates of childhood sexual abuse, current abuse, domestic violence and social isolation. Ending AIDS, more and more, means that we have to look at the whole person and recognize their situation to be able to provide effective prevention and care." said Chris Norwood, Executive Director of Health People.

"HIV/AIDS does not happen in a vacuum. The Bronx has an extraordinarily high rate of poverty, addiction, crime, and other difficult issues that affect families and create traumatized men and women who don't believe anything can ever happen to change their circumstances,' stated Janet Lerner, PhD, Administrator of Research and Development at Narco Freedom. "This special program is designed to address the issues that keep people in turmoil and help them develop hope and learn new, more successful ways of managing their lives to prevent destructive behaviors that lead to infection or the spread of infection. Our two organizations working together will make it possible for good things to happen for many women and their families."

Social Media with Albert Einstein

Health People's second initiative is a research project under the auspices of Albert Einstein School of Medicine which focuses on testing and understanding the best use of social media to reach women with effective messages about HIV prevention and care.

"We're excited to be collaborating with Health People on this project and finding novel ways in which social media can be leveraged to help promote engagement in care and treatment for women living with HIV/AIDS," said Oni Blackstock, M.D., the lead investigator, who is Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Ruby Garner, a peer researcher from Health People, herself a woman with HIV, will be conducting dozens of interviews to help define how social media can be better employed to inform women about HIV prevention and care. By using a peer educator as a researcher, the social media project will include the opinions and views of a range of women.

Health People pioneered the peer education model in 1990 to ensure that the most underserved and difficult to reach New Yorkers had access to critical health information.

"Health People was originally founded as a women's AIDS peer organization to train the women most affected by AIDS as leaders and educators, "Ms. Norwood added. "We learned from the early days what extraordinary leadership women could show in this crisis. We've made a lot of progress in HIV prevention, but we have to look carefully at improving our strategies for women who remain at risk. These projects are enabling us to use the crucial leadership of women, themselves, to assist the women for whom it will make the most difference today."

About Health People
Health People is a groundbreaking peer education, prevention and support organization in the South Bronx whose mission is to train and empower residents of communities overwhelmed by chronic disease and AIDS to become leaders and educators in effectively preventing ill health, hospitalization, and unnecessary death.

Established in 1990 as a women's AIDS prevention and support program, Health People has grown, using its peer-education model, to provide a full range of HIV/AIDS services for men, women and families. It also has conducted community asthma programs, New York's first diabetes peer-educators program, and a community smoking cessation program. Health People's Junior Peer program, Kids-Helping-Kids includes teens who are mentors for younger children with sick or missing parents.


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