The CDC NPIN Featured Partner resource offers HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD, and TB prevention-focused organizations a platform to showcase their services, programs, and materials. Our goal is to highlight the work of CDC's prevention partners and encourage partners to connect with each other to share information and strategies. Organizations are nominated by CDC or their peers, or are self-nominated. Those selected are featured on the NPIN Web site for the month.
Founded in 1983 by volunteer health professionals and supporters and incorporated in 1986, the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective, Inc. (HGLHC), has become an organization with full- and part-time staff and nearly 70 volunteers contributing thousands of hours annually. HGLHC currently provides health and support services, education, and advocacy, including
- Medical services: STD diagnosis and treatment, hepatitis A & B screening and immunization, hepatitis C screening, HIV counseling and testing, and women's services (testing and immunization services are also offered offsite in local gay bars and health fairs).
- Ryan White services for persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWAs): dental services, psychosocial services, and meals for low-income PLWAs.
- Acupuncture services for PLWAs who deal with addictions.
- Support groups.
- Mental health services.
- Health education.
Services are tailored to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities but are available to clients of all genders and gender identities, sexual orientations, ages, and ethnicities. HGLHC reaches thousands of people every year and is especially proud of its services to people living with HIV/AIDS.
HGLHC is an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues and maintains a presence at meetings, events, and venues where issues of relevance to HGLHC's constituency are discussed, decided, or celebrated.
HGLHC has been running the MPowerment Project in Hartford since January 2009. The MPowerment Project is the first HIV prevention intervention for young gay/bisexual men documented to succeed in reducing sexual risk behavior. The MPowerment model was selected for the target population of young men who have sex with men (MSM) because of its social focus, which is motivating for young gay men in a way that HIV prevention is not.
Staff members conducted community assessments to understand the social and community needs of young MSM in the greater Hartford area. This planning stage also allowed Prevention Team members to determine how the community perceives HIV risk and the importance of prevention efforts. Based on their findings, the team began recruiting young gay and bisexual men between the ages of 18 and 29 to start an MPowerment project. The project was advertised as a community-building project in which young men can support each other, have fun, talk about safer sex and HIV prevention, keep their friends and loved ones safe, and have a safe place to hang out as an alternative to the gay bar scene.
There are approximately 40 members who participate in the various social and community events coordinated and hosted by MPowerment. Several of these members agreed to take on leadership roles, and this body is called the Core Group. Social events are planned monthly by this dedicated committee of approximately 11 MSM. The group also decided to rename the project MPowerCT and designed a unique logo to help with the branding of the project.
MPowerCT events have included a brunch at a local gay-friendly restaurant, bowling day, a karaoke night, hiking trips, discussion nights, and game nights. These events are designed to incorporate safer sex messages and HIV awareness and prevention themes. Several "Bar Zaps" have been done by the group, in which members rush a local gay bar in Hartford wearing MPowerCT t-shirts and go through the crowd promoting the program and handing out condoms and safer sex kits. The men have helped to inform others about the project and its messages and plan to expand the project by offering bigger and more frequent events and by continuing to use social networking Web sites like MySpace and Facebook to attract new members and publicize the group's events.
It is important to HGLHC that programs work well together, and MPowerCT is a prime example of how one program can serve as a conduit to providing other necessary services to clients and their partners and friends. MPowerCT members have access to HIV testing and/or STD testing and treatment at HGLHC. Participants can be referred to HGLHC's Comprehensive Risk Counseling and Services program (called Integrity) to do additional one-on-one counseling. If an individual discloses as being HIV-positive, they could be referred to Solutions (HGLHC’s version of Healthy Relationships). Participants have referred their friends and brought partners along to meetings.
When MPowerCT project members expressed a desire to give back to the community by volunteering, they were offered a chance to participate in Safety Net, a new program which uses texts or e-mails between peers (MSM-targeted) to share short, snappy messages about HIV testing and safer sex. The first message sent recently read "Wanna ride bareback? Join a rodeo. Go to hglhc.org for info." This will bring them to the Safety Net Web page with more information on the program and on the risks of bareback (unprotected) anal sex. A new message will go out every month, and HGLHC will track how many messages were sent each month and how many people come for testing as a result.
Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective
P.O. Box 2094
Hartford, CT 06145-2094
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