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The mission of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force (PATF) is to support and empower all individuals living with HIV/AIDS and prevent the spread of infection. In just four years, PATF has launched three unique prevention programs aimed primarily at African-Americans throughout the region. As a result, PATF has reached thousands of people and has received national acclaim for its efforts.
Men who have sex with men (MSM) comprise the group of people in western Pennsylvania contracting HIV/AIDS at the highest rate. These rates are disproportionately higher with young African American MSM. That’s why, four years ago, PATF began collaborating with the Persad Center, a local AIDS service organization serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community; the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health; and the Pitt Men’s Study to create M2M, a prevention program that teaches men how to protect themselves and others. M2M’s unique feature is community input for the project. Two major ongoing support groups for young African American men have been formed as a result of this project.
Since 2009, The Girlfriends Project has provided HIV risk-reduction services to more than 300 African American women. Lisa Dukes, PATF’s Girlfriends Project coordinator, and Pamela Smith, assistant Girlfriends outreach liaison, work with volunteers to host informal, in-home health education parties, focused on HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, referrals/resources, free HIV testing and counseling and incentives for hosts and guests. The program has been nationally recognized, most recently at the U.S. Conference on AIDS in Chicago. Dukes and Smith are partnering with the University of Pittsburgh to conduct a scientific evaluation of the Girlfriends Project to assess its effectiveness in meeting its intended objectives.
PATF also launched the Girl Talk Project, a spin-off of the Girlfriends Project, in spring 2011. Aimed at young women ages 13-18, Girl Talk is similar to the Girlfriends Project, featuring in-home educational parties. The main difference is that teens “host” Girl Talk parties, and parents/caregivers can attend those parties. Girl Talk coordinator Tiffani Thompson facilitates conversation between teenagers and their parents or caregivers. The events feature guest speakers who discuss a variety of topics, including personal perspectives on sexuality and sexual orientation, HIV and other STD information and the Girlfriends Project.
PATF recognizes the importance of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and is committed to working to make our community safer.
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