New model for HIV prevention launching this fall

  • Lead Navigation Specialist Eran Sargent, MSW
    Lead Navigation Specialist Eran Sargent, MSW
  • Navigation team
    Left to right: fellow Navigators/team members Cesar Mantilla, Juan David Franco, and Simon Pedisich
Growing up as an adolescent of color and as a member of the LGBT community, I can vividly recall the fear and angst I would experience at even the slightest mention of HIV. It was a virus that was never thoroughly explained or a topic that was never truly explored, but I was always very scared to know my own status because of the negative things I heard. This was a sentiment that was very common among my friends and peer groups.  Even now, for many reasons, such as stigma and discrimination, I believe people are still afraid to have candid conversations about HIV, sexual health, and overall emotional wellness. 
 
New CDC funds administered by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and distributed to seven community based organizations in Philadelphia, including Mazzoni Center, aims to re-envision the way HIV prevention services are delivered, particularly for men of color who have sex with men as well as transgender women of color.  This program focuses on providing unprecedented navigation services to people who are HIV negative. The primary goal is for each person to maintain their negative status by addressing other social determinants of health such as education, employment, housing, mental health, and substance abuse.  
 
 
Much focus will be given to informing folks about PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), an ongoing medication regimen to help prevent HIV infection among individuals at high risk.  Navigation services connect people to medical care and other resources to address these ongoing issues. The hope is that people become more empowered as the captain of their own lives.
 
The program will officially launch on October 1 but has already begun accepting new clients for navigation services, and reaching out to MSM of color and trans women of color is a high priority. Although these are the target populations, anyone who is at risk for contracting HIV is eligible for navigation services. This can be anyone who has a partner who is HIV positive, anyone who has sex with people with unknown HIV status, or anyone who wants to be more empowered in their sexual health.
 
For more information or if you have any questions, please contact me by email at [email protected] or by phone at 215-563-0652 ext. 263. We look forward to working with you!

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