Preventing HIV Infection, Neighborhood by Neighborhood
|Young women are using the Internet to meet young men and to find health-related information. A grant to Love Heals will tailor safer-sex outreach to these girls and young women. Photo by Love Heals.|
Young black and Latina women in the City are four times more likely to be infected with HIV than their white counterparts. This is largely because they live in parts of the South Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens where they are having sex with men who have some of the highest infection rates in the country. A growing number of these girls are also "hooking up" and practicing unsafe sex with men they meet online.
The City's Department of Health reported 10,000 new cases of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in girls of color last year. In addition to facing the health problems caused by STDs, these girls are four times more likely to become infected with HIV after unprotected sex.
Ineffective outreach and sex education and few HIV testing facilities and health care in these neighborhoods have created a perfect storm: 90 percent of young women ages 13 to 24 living with AIDS or HIV in the City are black or Latina.
To combat AIDS in these communities, The Trust is funding groups that are able to reach these girls where they are —whether that means drug hotspots in Long Island City at 2 a.m., after church services on Flatbush Avenue, or on Facebook. The four groups are:
- The Caribbean Women's Health Association, $50,000 to launch a new HIV prevention program tailored to the needs of the Caribbean community in central Brooklyn.
- Safe Space, $50,000 to strengthen its HIV prevention program for teens in Jamaica and Far Rockaway and for outreach vans to help homeless and runaway girls and young women on Long Island City streets.
- Planned Parenthood of New York City, $125,000, for public outreach, including radio spots that make the connection between HIV and STDs and encourage girls and young women to get tested.
- Love Heals, $30,000 to offer a variety of online resources, including supervised peer chat sessions in which teens answer questions regarding HIV/STD testing, free condoms, and social services, and making referrals to local agencies.