South Dallas prevention organization targets population hardest hit by new HIV infections
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
Abounding Prosperity, a South Dallas-based AIDS education organization, has been awarded a grant from the Centers for Disease Control, and is the only agency in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to be included in this round of CDC funding.
The money will be used to expand HIV prevention services for young gay and bisexual men of color, transgender youth of color and their partners, according to Kirk Myers, CEO of Abounding Prosperity.
Myers said that his organization was one of the few nationally that got fully funded. The five-year grant totals $1.7 million.
The CDC awarded prevention grants to 34 agencies around the country. This expands on an earlier program to reach the targeted populations with an increase of $10 million to $55 million nationally over five years, funding a larger number of community organizations.
“We will be trying to identify those people who are positive and unaware,” Myers said,“and help those people who are positive and know their status to become responsible for not reinfecting themselves or anyone else.
“We see ourselves as a prevention organization rather than a care organization,” he added.
Although three Dallas AIDS organizations applied for the grant money, Myers said he believes Abounding Prosperity was chosen because it targets African-American men who have sex with men (MSM) between the ages of 17 and 29, the group hardest hit with new infections in Dallas.
That includes many who are unemployed and underemployed.
To encourage testing and behavioral intervention, Myers suggested using incentives such as gift cards that might cover gas costs.
“Even though testing should be done routinely, you’re not worried about testing when you’re worried about your next meal,” Myers said.
In addition to testing, the focus will be on using evidence-based interventions designed to create behavior changes using techniques that have proven successful with gay men.
Myers said he will need to triple the size of his staff to nine and add more office space to operate the grant. He has already looked at two properties on MLK Boulevard near Abounding Prosperity’s current office.
Myers said that he would like to collaborate with Dallas County and other AIDS organizations’ programs to reach the most underserved populations.
He specifically mentioned Resource Center Dallas’ syphilis elimination program as an obvious partner.
“Syphilis is off the charts in Dallas,” Myers said. “And if you’re putting yourself at risk for syphilis, you’re putting yourself at risk for HIV.”
But, Myers said, his ultimate goal is to do the job of education and prevention so well that he can put Abounding Propserity out of business.
“I want to eradicate AIDS,” he said.
Ryan White funds
In addition, the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced $1.89 billion in grants to states for HIV/AIDS care and medications. Texas was awarded $85,856,474 in Ryan White money designated “supplemental part B.”
The state also received $786,424 in AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) Emergency Relief Awards.
ADAP funding matches money spent by the state. Texas cut its ADAP funding, which may be a reason smaller states are receiving more money. Georgia and Louisiana each were awarded $3 million and Florida almost $7 million in emergency drug assistance money.
Dallas will receive $14,625,082 and Fort Worth $3,864,274 in Ryan White Part A funding. Dallas awards are administered for the region by the county. Other cities in Texas receiving these grants are Houston ($19.7 million), San Antonio and Austin ($4.4 million each).
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.