Serving their Community in Time of Need with HIV Testing and Education
Washington D.C., AIDS United AmeriCorps members are responding to the recent HIV outbreak in Southeastern Indiana by providing HIV testing and other key services in partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health. Southeastern Indiana, an area with few new HIV diagnoses annually, has confirmed more than 80 new cases this year, with more anticipated. This represents an explosive increase in new HIV diagnoses this year, moving Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to declare a public health emergency.
In response, AmeriCorps members serving in Indianapolis—coordinated locally by The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis (THFGI)—already trained in HIV prevention and testing, will be assisting local health departments throughout the Southeastern region of Indiana.“Testing sites are being set up at local businesses, doctors’ offices and clinics. Testing is critical to knowing your status and protecting yourself and others. Our members can help meet this critical demand,“ said Jason Grisell, AmeriCorps city supervisor and Program Director at THFGI.
The outbreak in Indiana is unprecedented. It is striking a rural region that had never seen this number of new diagnoses before. As such, the communities do not currently have the infrastructure to provide culturally competent testing and linkage services on this scale. Officials believe the epidemic is driven by the use of contaminated needles or syringes by people who inject drugs and by condomless sex.
The AIDS United AmeriCorps program brings 54 young people from across the country together to address the HIV epidemic. Members receive extensive training in HIV testing and counseling, linkage to care, and harm reduction. Members serve in one of seven diverse cities where they tackle challenges unique to their communities and develop skills essential to ending the HIV epidemic.
“This is a clear example of AmeriCorps Members serving on the frontlines of the HIV epidemic, changing lives and making a difference,” said AIDS United President & CEO Michael Kaplan. “The AIDS United program has a 20-year history of engaging young people in the field and preparing them to join the next generation of public health leaders.”
Jessica Miller current member of the AIDS United AmeriCorps Team in Indianapolis said, “Serving our community, going where they need us most – that’s just part of being an AIDS United AmeriCorps Member. This is a community in desperate need of HIV testing and education. With our team we should—at minimum—be able to test 100 people a day. Our team looks forward to helping the Department of Health in any way we can.”
AIDS United AmeriCorps members have served in Indiana for 10 years, providing HIV testing, education and outreach. “We are proud of our members’ work and dedication to Indiana at this critical time. We know they are a crucial asset to the state’s response,” said Kaplan.
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About the AIDS United AmeriCorps Program:
The AIDS United AmeriCorps program is the largest national AmeriCorps program with a singular focus on ending the HIV epidemic through public service. Over its 20-year history, the AIDS United AmeriCorps program has trained and placed over 700 members in HIV-focused community-based organizations and helped over 75,000 people know their HIV status.
About The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis:
The Health Foundation of Greater Indianapolis is a private foundation that funds health-related projects not easily funded by other means, and organizations that offer health and health-related services, primarily to the community’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens. Since 1994, The Health Foundation of Indianapolis has granted more than $16 million toward HIV testing and treatment as prevention. For more information, visit The Health Foundation’s website at www.thfgi.org.
About AIDS United:
Created by a merger between the National AIDS Fund and AIDS Action in late 2010, AIDS United’s mission is to end the AIDS epidemic in the United States, through strategic grant-making, capacity building, formative research and policy. AIDS United works 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. To date, our strategic grant-making initiatives have directly funded more than $85.8 million to local communities, and have leveraged more than $110 million in additional investments for programs that include, but are not limited to, HIV prevention, access to care, capacity building, harm reduction and advocacy. www.aidsunited.org.