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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

Pittsburgh HIV AIDS Awareness and Assistance Programs

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, through its Center for LGBT Health Research, participates in or studies many local programs intended to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and encourage testing and treatment.

Project Silk is an HIV prevention demonstration project located in downtown Pittsburgh that provides a safe place for LGBT young people of color, ages 13 to 29, to find recreation, social support and service uptake. The project combines options for on-site and off-site HIV testing, HIV prevention, sexually transmitted infection testing and linkage to social services and medical care. It is funded by the CDC, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and operated by Pitt’s HIV Prevention and Care Project, in collaboration with Community Human Services, Inc. More information can be found at http://projectsilk.org/.

The Open Door is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable, safe and supportive housing for chronically homeless, highly marginalized individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The initiative includes peer monitors who provide support to residents related to clinical adherence. Research shows that consistent, stable housing, such as that provided by The Open Door, leads to improved access to health care, on-going engagement in care and treatment success. Pitt Public Health is participating in an evaluation to help the program develop best practices and guidance for replication elsewhere. For more information, visit http://opendoorhousing.org/.

The Girlfriends Project is a program of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force and is often described as similar to a Tupperware Party in format. Women volunteer to host informal gatherings for friends that focus on HIV/AIDS risk reduction and provide free HIV testing and counseling. A Pitt Public Health study found that the project increased frequency of condom use, as well as HIV risk knowledge and communication. Of the 150 women who participated in the study, nearly 87 percent received HIV tests, with 100 percent returning for results. For more information, visit http://www.patf.org/protect-yourself/prevention-programs.

The Positive Health Clinic is a comprehensive HIV primary care clinic in Pittsburgh that is part of the Allegheny Health Network. The Positive Health clinic treats hundreds of patients, providing not just HIV-related care, but also nutritional assessment and counseling, smoking cessation programs, mental health assessment and psychiatric support and case management for non-medical needs. Pitt Public Health is currently conducting a mixed method evaluation of their services to identify factors related to successful retention in care and gather potential pilot data for future research proposals.  For more information, visit http://www.wpahs.org/specialties/hiv-aids-care.