The chronic, disproportionate impact of HIV/AIDS on African Americans is a result of the complex interaction between multiple risk factors. Individual behaviors such as substance use and unsafe sexual practices interact with more complex social realities like poverty, racism, unequal access to healthcare, and limited community capacity to help promote HIV transmission among African Americans. Solutions to these issues are not easy and require the commitment of communities to effectively address them. Communities, including formal organizations, as well as informal groups and local citizens, are experts in their own realities and know the best ways to address HIV using their collective strengths. Based on this understanding the Brothers-to-Brothers/Sisters-to-Sisters Coalition (BB/SS) was formed to develop local solutions to the growing HIV epidemic in minority communities, particularly the African-American community.
The project seeks to enhance and expand addiction treatment and care coordination services aimed at primarily African American males and females with HIV/AIDS (95% of the targeted population) and at-risk men and women from Dayton’s other communities of color (less than 5% combined Hispanic Latinos/Asian-Pacific Islanders/American Indian). The goals of the study are as follows:
- Enhance treatment and access to treatment for primarily 100 African American men and women and other members from communities of color with HIV/AIDS in need of addiction treatment and follow-up support.
- Expand treatment capacity at three treatment sites to serve at least 50 more, per year, African American men and women and other members from communities of color with HIV/AIDS in need of treatment than are currently served (60 total were targeted in the first funding cycle).
- Improve outreach and accessibility to services for African American men and women and other members from communities of color with or at risk for HIV/AIDS in need of addiction treatment and follow-up support.
- In concert with the Consumer Advisory Board and coalition partners, evaluate the process and outcomes of the project and distribute findings and recommendations.
Prior to BB/SS, HIV testing had only been available from stationary testing sites throughout Montgomery County. Results from a community assessment conducted by BB/SS revealed that these services were not reaching those most at risk for HIV infection. Specifically, HIV testing data from the community assessment revealed that local HIV testing numbers had decreased. In addition, community stakeholders noted that high-risk populations were not accessing HIV services at traditional testing sites and consumers described significant barriers to getting tested for HIV including transportation issues, lack of time to get tested, and the stigma associated with going to a known community HIV testing site. Based on this, BB/SS sponsored the purchase of a Public Health Mobile Unit (PHMU).
The PHMU offered services at 594 events with 63.3% occurring across churches (27.8%), alcohol and drug treatment programs (22.2%), and social services agencies (13.3%) like homeless shelters and food banks. Across these events, the PHMU conducted 3156 HIV tests, identifying 19 HIV-positive persons. Women (53.1%) and African Americans (58.8%) were most often tested on the PHMU. During this same time period, a standard HIV test site operated by Public Health Dayton/Montgomery County and serving primarily African Americans tested 2592 persons, identifying 10 HIV-positives.
BB/SS group outreach events included HIV education at drug treatment programs, churches, and community health fairs. BB/SS reached 3392 individuals with its face-to-face outreach efforts. Over 9600 individuals across 209 community events participated in a BB/SS group outreach event. Across all outreach activities, over 14,000 brochures and 12,000 condoms were distributed, along with 1178 drug treatment and 3736 HIV testing referrals.
Dennis Moore, Ed.D.
- Public Health Dayton/Montgomery County
- Local substance abuse treatment providers
- AIDS Resource Center (now Equitas)