Safe Space Project
The CAPUS Safe Space Project was awarded to the Cumberland County Department of Public Health who has sub- contracted with Community Health Interventions and Sickle Cell Agency, Inc.to facilitate the Safe Space Project. Under the CAPUS Demonstration Grant “Safe Spaces” are settings and/or gatherings conducted in a non-threatening environment or atmosphere where individuals who are HIV positive can meet (together) to learn important information on how to understand, manage and control the factors and elements that affect/influence their CD4 counts and their viral loads (with the goal of increasing their CD4 counts and decreasing their viral loads).
The population of interest for participation in the CAPUS Safe Spaces initiative is Black and Hispanic HIV positive males, and women between the ages of 18 years and 35 years of age. These individuals are identified through agency testing efforts, referrals from clinics, patient navigators, Disease Intervention Specialists (DIS), Bridge Counselors, Region Network of Care, and other social network contacts. Community Health Interventions has a strong working relationship and collaborative partnership with members from these groups. Safe Spaces meetings in Cumberland County meet minimally twice a month.
During these meetings there are seven core elements that are addressed.
- HIV/STD 101
- Medication Adherence and Viral Load Suppression
- Accessing Care and Medical Decision Making
- Advocating for the best possible care
- Disclosure: When, if and how
- Recognizing and managing anxiety and depression
- Dealing with Stigma
Along with these core elements there are also of other information and needs that are addressed, HIV Treatment Updates, Access of meds thru ADAP, Substance Use, Role of Religion in defining self-worth, Racism and Homophobia, Romantic and sexual relationship dynamics, Educational Strategies, talking with our families and developing work plans to name a few.
The “Safe Spaces” formats, unlike many other EBIs/DEBIs, are flexible in its design and meet the convenience requirements of the minority and HIV positive community. Safe Space are continuous, thereby allowing several opportunities for the HIV positive individual to hear accurate information about how to remain virally suppressed, and it provides an ongoing opportunity to witness and evaluate other members of the group who are working to maintain their viral load suppression. Finally, HIV positive persons participating in Safe Space meetings engage in open and candid discussions with other HIV positive people about issues that affect their health care, which they might otherwise be unable to do. For more Information please contact the Safe Space Facilitator at 910-488-6118.
For questions about the Safe Space Project contact Elazzoa McArthur, Prevention Programs Manager at (910) 488-6118