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Peer-to-Peer Programming

A common challenge in the SPNS YMSM of Color Initiative was training peer educators. As the demonstration projects progressed, many peers outgrew their roles. Others had difficulty integrating with clinic staff because they lacked a mature work ethic. When peers are able to overcome these kinds of challenges, however, they can prove to be enormously effective at reaching other young PLWH because they are able to gain their trust and model successful treatment behavior. The Living History website includes a powerful story in its Ryan White Voices section about one individual who has done just that. Today, Jose Ramirez is a peer educator and heads the Youth Empowerment Program at La Clinica Del Pueblo in Washington, DC, which receives funding from Ryan White Parts A and B. Watch Jose’s story here.

Photo of man speaking to a group of young people near a bus stop.

La Clinica Del Pueblo’s peer educator, Jose Ramirez, takes to the streets to engage young people in Washington, DC. Watch his Living History video story here.

Technology and Outreach

Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program providers and grantees continue to seek out methods to reach adolescents and teens with messages related to care and support. They are using text messages, tweets, Facebook profiles, YouTube videos, and other electronic mediums of communication to develop more connected and immediate relationships with all of their patients, but especially younger ones.41

For example, in Texas, staff members at the Dallas Family Access Network (FAN)/Youth Angle send appointment reminders via text messages and social media sites to young people who would rather not receive calls on their parents’ home phones. And outreach workers at the Puerto Rico Community Network for Clinical Research on AIDS (PR CoNCRA) make sure to enter chat rooms or send instant messages at night, when young patients are more likely to be interacting on social media sites.

The June 2011 issue of the HRSA CAREAction newsletter on “Social Media and HIV” (PDF – 1.5 MB) provides additional detail on how Ryan White providers are leveraging the power of online social networks and mobile-based communications. HRSA will be publishing an updated issue on social media tactics soon, which will be available here.

A Comprehensive Approach to Care

Like most Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program grantees, Detroit’s Horizons Project, the provider that 18-year-old Mario Smith originally went to for care, performs regular outreach to make sure that as many youth as possible get tested, diagnosed, and linked to care. Their efforts don’t stop there, however, because retaining those patients in care is just as important to keep them healthy. The Horizons Project offers a comprehensive, full-service approach designed to overcome the variety of barriers that young people often face, both in accessing care and staying engaged in care. Services include peer support groups and other mental health and social support.

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