RCD continues United Black Ellument

DSHS takes over funding from CDC for peer-to-peer education program

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

United Black Ellument, a social and support group for African-American men, has changed from an independent program to a program of Resource Center Dallas and will now be funded by the Texas Department of State Heath Services. U-BE’s staff became employees of RCD on May 1.

U-BE works to reduce HIV infection among young gay and bisexual African-American men through peer-to-peer education, program officials said.

The program, created by Dr. Susan Kegeles of the University of California, San Francisco in 2009, was previously funded by the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC was unable to continue funding beyond two years and UCSF looked for alternative sources of support but was unable to find any.

When DSHS stepped in and agreed to fund the program, the Texas agency looked for partners they have worked with successfully in the past to administer it and chose to partner with RCD.

RCD will maintain the program’s current space on Commerce Street in Deep Ellum.

Program director Ruben Ramirez said the office will remain open Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“We’re providing a safe space to socialize,” Ramirez said. “To talk in a judgment-free zone.”

He said many of the men who attend have no other place to go and meet people like them.

The program includes a social component with everything from bowling or crawfish boils to an evening of coffee and conversation, he said. But it also includes a prevention and skill-building component.

“We teach how to use a condom and do it properly,” Ramirez said. “How to negotiate safer-sex conversations with partners.”

Through separate funding to Kegeles, the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies in San Francisco will continue evaluating U-BE and its impact on the community and providing technical assistance and training to the staff.

“We welcome the opportunity to continue the outreach and prevention efforts established by U-BE,” said RCD Executive Director Cece Cox. “This opportunity leverages the Center’s expertise in HIV prevention and outreach, still serving men who have sex with men as well as impacting a demographic that has been disproportionately impacted by HIV — the African-American community.”

3116 Commerce St., Suite C. More information and calendar at UBeDallas.org.

—  John Wright

RCD to begin Saturday HIV testing program

STD testing will be offered during new testing hours including free syphilis screening

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Through a partnership with the Texas Department of State Health Services, Resource Center Dallas will begin HIV and STD testing on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning May 21, RCD officials announced this week

Testing will be offered at the Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic, 4012 Cedar Springs Road.

A rapid test will offer HIV results within 20 minutes. That will be confirmed through a Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing that can detect HIV as soon as 14 days after infection. The rapid test window of detection is about three months after infection.

Last year, 30 NAAT tests given at Nelson-Tebedo confirmed HIV that rapid testing did not detect. That was out of about 3,000 tests given in 2010, or 1 percent.

Bret Camp, associate executive director for health and medical services at Resource Center Dallas, said results from the NAAT test take a week and so does testing for other STDs.

Testing for syphilis is free but there is a fee for other STD tests which include chlamydia, gonorrhea and human papillomavirus. Confidential HIV testing is free. Anonymous testing through a unique identifier is at a small charge.

All results are given in person.

Although walk-ins for Saturday testing are accepted, Camp said that appointments are encouraged.

“By adding these Saturday testing hours, it will now be more convenient than ever to take charge of your health,” Camp said.

—  John Wright

Abounding Prosperity promotes HIV prevention

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Abounding Prosperity will launch its new initiative, “Dallas Taking Control,” at a town hall meeting that will be held next week in conjunction with the first South Dallas AIDS walk.

Kirk Myers, Abounding Prosperity’s CEO, said his organization is the only African-American run AIDS organization in South Dallas. The agency’s offices are located across the street from AIDS Arms’ Peabody Clinic.

Among the initiative’s goals are increased access to prevention education and outreach to men who have sex with men, and increasing awareness of the urgency of HIV/AIDS through social networking and increase partnerships.

Myers.Kirk
Kirk Myers

Myers said that while AIDS Arms cares for people with HIV, his organization is dedicated to preventing infection.

 

He referred to the $8 million AIDS Arms is raising for a second clinic.

“Eight million dollars can prevent a lot of HIV cases too,” he said.

He said he isn’t criticizing the work of AIDS Arms, but is questioning the county’s and state’s commitment to promoting awareness and preventing the disease.

The South Dallas AIDS Walk will be held on Saturday, March 19. The Anthony Chisolm AIDS Foundation that scheduled the walk planned a town hall meeting the night before at Cornerstone Baptist Church. Phill Wilson is the featured speaker.

Wilson founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999. Before that he co-chaired the Los Angeles County HIV Health Commission and was director of policy and planning at AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Wilson.Phill
Phill Wilson

After Wilson speaks, Dallas’ new first lady, State Rep. Barbara Mallory-Carroway, will moderate a panel discussion about the Dallas Taking Control initiative.

Among the panelists will be Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson. From the Texas Department of State Health Services, the director and the manager of the TB, HIV and STD division, Felipe Rocha and Dr. Ann Robbins, will appear along with Kevin Jones, a behavioral scientist with the Centers for Disease Control.

A study issued by the CDC last year found that gay black men in Dallas had among the highest rates of HIV in the country. Myers called the statistics a disaster and his organization requested a state of emergency in Dallas.

While the state of emergency was denied, Myers said that the panel is a result. He said this is the first time county and state health officials have come together specifically to address the black gay community in Dallas.

Myers said that his organization continues to grow and is receiving more recognition for its work.

Abounding Prosperity operates Prosperity House in South Dallas as a temporary housing providing low-cost transitional housing.

Myers said his agency is looking to expand to provide free temporary housing for at-risk gay black youth aged 17 or older.

……………………………

First South Dallas AIDS Walk steps off on March 19

The Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation will hold the first South Dallas AIDS Walk on Saturday, March 19.

The 5K walk begins and ends at the South Dallas Cultural Center on Fitzhugh Avenue near Fair Park. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the walk at 10 a.m.

“The goal is to inspire, galvanize and rally South Dallas,” the foundation’s executive director, Auntjuan Wiley, said.

He said the dollar goal is $100,000.

“We still need sponsors, vendors, volunteers, walkers and teams,” Wiley said.

At the end of the walk, he said there will be entertainment and children’s activities.

Wiley said the foundation, which began in 2008, provides financial assistance for people with HIV. They help with rent, utility bills, insurance payments and access to medication. Transportation vouchers help clients get to their medical appointments.

For more information, please call Auntjuan Wiley at (214) 455-7316. You may also visit SouthDallasAIDSWalk.org.

The agency also provides HIV and syphilis testing, counseling and referral services. Myers said his group is not a nine-to-five office-hours, HIV testing organization.

“Our goal is to serve the most at-risk people,” he said. “We do it at times convenient to our clientele.”

That includes sending staff to clients’ homes when necessary, Myers said.

Abounding Prosperity also runs substance abuse meetings for men dealing with alcohol and drug problems.

This year, Black Tie Dinner approached the group about applying to become a beneficiary. Myers said the  agency completed and submitted its application and he is waiting to see if Abounding Prosperity is accepted as a beneficiary.

Myers said he appreciated the outreach by Black Tie and added that it confirmed that the work his organization is doing within the black gay community is being recognized beyond the South Dallas community as well.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas