‘Get Tested’

AIDS Foundation of Chicago Unveils Two Social Campaigns Promoting STI Testing

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) unveiled a new social marketing program with the hope to promote STI testing among young women of color and young transgender women of color, called Project Elevate.

“Project Elevate is an innovative program that will bring public awareness to sexually transmitted infections (STI) testing through social marketing campaigns, recruitment, and program promotion with young women of color and young transwomen of color,” said Director of Prevention and Community Partnerships at AFC Cynthia Tucker. “It is extremely important that we have programs that are representative of them and that they feel comfortable. You cannot have community based programs without including the actual population. So our goal is to really make sure women of color and transwomen of color are included in the conversation and represented.”

In partnership with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL), and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Project Elevate is a prevention and treatment campaign designed by and for young women of color and transgender women of color in the Chicago area to take control of their health and test for sexually transmitted diseases. “Sadly, so many young women do not get tested for STI because most of them believe if they do not display symptoms nothing is wrong with them. Or, there are not enough resources in their communities, or they feel ashamed,” said Tucker. “By working with our partners we hope to stress the importance of testing and remove any type of barriers or stigmas associated with being tested.”

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

According to the Chicago Department of Health, in 2012, Chicago had a Chlamydia rate twice the national average and a Gonorrhea rate three times higher than the national rate. STIs are most likely diagnosed among 13 to 24 years old. Nearly 95 percent of females with new STI diagnoses in Chicago were among African-American and Latinas. Project Elevate will use social marketing to promote STI testing ages 12 to 24 that are vulnerable to STI transmission. The initiative uses community engagement with the help of community advisory boards, a social marketing campaign, and partnerships with health care providers and schools to offer testing.

In addition to Project Elevate, The AFC recently launched “Salud y Orgullo Mexicano,” (SOM) a project formulated to encourage Mexican men to connect to HIV testing and care services. SOM, which translates to “Mexican health and pride,” works to eliminate barriers to HIV testing and care for people of Mexican descent. SOM has partnered with Erie Family Health Center, 2750 W. North Ave., in Humboldt Park to offer Mexican men HIV testing and medical and emotional care. Director of Special Projects at AIDS Foundation of Chicago Roman Buenrostro shared a statement with Lawndale Bilingual Newspaper about the project.

“Latinos are disproportionately affected by HIV; they make up 16 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 21 percent of new HIV infections. Latinos are 3X more likely to get HIV infected than their White counterparts. When it comes to HIV testing, Latinos face three major obstacles: lack of access to health care, fear of stigma, and low perception of HIV risk. And once they are diagnosed with HIV, barriers to treatment often include lack of health insurance, difficulty navigating the U.S. health care system, and a shortage of culturally competent health care facilities. “We know that Latinos who recently immigrated to the United States are more likely to be diagnosed late in the course of their HIV infection than those who are more assimilated or were born in the U.S.,” said Roman Buenrostro, Director of Special Projects at AFC. “That’s why it wasn’t enough for our ads to simply be in Spanish; we designed them to resonate culturally with Mexican men to get their attention. We hope they do just that. ” To learn more about Project Elevate and SOM, visit www.aidschicago.org.

Comments are closed.