Local and Community News
New York: A Creative New Take on AIDS Prevention
July 30, 2002
Crowds of young men and women spill out of the taverns onto Buffalo's Chippewa strip. Before they get too far, they are handed a packet with condoms, instructions on how to use them and leaflets with information on HIV/AIDS. "We'll go out to different bars we have relationships with," said Raymond Ganoe, director of the Kaleida Health program called Project Reach. "We've done condom demonstrations in the middle of bars with crowds of people." Now advocates are becoming more creative, and they're changing their tactics to get out the HIV prevention and safe sex message. Some of the more imaginative methods have evolved over the past few years as health officials and grass-roots groups sensed a public complacency toward HIV/AIDS.
New data suggest the concerns may be valid. A study released at the 14th International AIDS Conference in Barcelona indicated that HIV cases are three times as common among gay and bisexual men than previously estimated because many are simply unaware they're infected. And if there's a lack of awareness among the gay and bisexual community -- which has always been at the forefront of HIV prevention and testing -- advocates reason that awareness is lacking among the rest of the population as well.
In response, agencies are thinking more strategically. Project Reach on Main Street, for example, saw the need for a more private approach when it recently launched a web site -- www.doingitsafe.com -- where people can request free condoms or post questions in a chat room. MOCHA (Men of Color Health Awareness) attracts attention to its cause with social events -- whether it's a combination safe sex workshop and ice cream social or a cookout to draw people from around the Virginia Street neighborhood to its offices for HIV testing.
But funds are scarce. There are more community-based agencies competing for fewer dollars, said John Morgan, MOCHA's executive director. Even more frustrating, he said, cooperation among the agencies is more talk than reality. "No one is willing to acknowledge they were duplicating services," Morgan said.
07.13.02; Jay Rey
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.