HIPAt­lanta makes the big move

GA Voice - - Georgia News -

In April 2011, five African-Amer­i­can men put their minds together to think of how to ad­dress the needs of African-Amer­i­can men liv­ing with HIV/AIDS. By 2012, they had cre­ated the HIV In­ter­ven­tion Project, es­tab­lished to link those liv­ing with HIV/AIDS with af­ford­able health­care and to pro­vide them with work­force de­vel­op­ment.

But last fall, the city of At­lanta ap­proached Greg Smith, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of HIPAt­lanta, let­ting him know that a larger space had opened up in the build­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion oc­cu­pied. Was he in­ter­ested?

In­deed he was. By Novem­ber they had been ap­proved to take over the space, ex­pand­ing nearly five times over from 275 square feet to 1300 square feet. But with that ex­pan­sion came an ex­panded mis­sion and ser­vices.

HIV In­ter­ven­tion Project At­lanta was re­named Hu­man Impact Project At­lanta and on June 1, they moved into their new space where they will of­fer free HIV and STD screen­ings, link­age to care, a com­mu­nity com­puter cen­ter and sup­port group space for African-Amer­i­can men through­out At­lanta re­gard­less of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity.

Ad­dress­ing com­mon chal­lenges

Greg Smith is on the move, dart­ing from one room to the next one re­cent Fri­day at the Dun­bar Re­cre­ation Cen­ter in the Me­chan­icsville com­mu­nity of At­lanta. It’s a good thing he has the en­ergy he does, be­cause he’ll need it. He’s a few days in to the move to HIPAt­lanta’s new of­fices and there are rooms to com­plete, signs to be posted, fur­ni­ture and other items to be set up.

“What I teach now is al­ways try­ing to find in our com­mu­nity what is our com­mon chal­lenge? And so when I look at African-Amer­i­can men re­gard­less of whether they’re het­ero­sex­ual or ho­mo­sex­ual, our com­mon chal­lenges are HIV, STD, em-

June 10, 2016

HIPAt­lanta ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Greg Smith re­ceived the keys to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s new space on June 1. (Photo by Pa­trick Saun­ders) ploy­ment and crim­i­nal his­tory chal­lenges,” Smith told Ge­or­gia Voice.

That’s a lot to tackle for one or­ga­ni­za­tion in a city with one of the largest pop­u­la­tions of African-Amer­i­can men in the na­tion. Cur­rently, the HIV test­ing is up and run­ning in the new space, and Smith says by July they’ll be up and run­ning full blast of- fer­ing the fol­low­ing: Dig­i­tal Cen­ter with free com­puter ac­cess, free fax ma­chine ac­cess, STEM work­shops, youth cod­ing classes and se­nior com­puter lit­er­acy. So­cial Media Room Test­ing & Treat­ment Ser­vices in­clud­ing HIV test­ing, con­fir­ma­tion, vi­ral and T-cell count test­ing, and STD and hepati­tis screen­ing and treat­ment

Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and Ver­i­fi­ca­tion Space with SNAP (food stamps), in­sur­ance nav­i­ga­tion, Med­i­caid ver­i­fi­ca­tion, ADAP (AIDS Drug As­sis­tance Pro­gram) and back­ground check and drug test­ing as­sis­tance

Rev­enue and Impact Co­or­di­na­tion Ser­vices in­clud­ing grant de­vel­op­ment, for-profit rev­enue streams op­er­a­tions and a tex­ting and so­cial media man­age­ment team

‘Out­reach plus test­ing equals link­ages’

By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS

“What we’re try­ing to do is find ways to make peo­ple want to come in,” Smith says. “So when we do out­reach, we’re say­ing, ‘Come on in and use the com­puter.’ When some­one comes in, while they’re here, we can say, ‘Well, have you had your HIV test?’ So it cre­ates a win-win. That way they’ll say, ‘I need to go back over there, man. They’ve got this and this and this.’”

It’s all part of the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s phi­los­o­phy: “Out­reach plus test­ing equals link­ages.” Smith and HIPAt­lanta’s plan is to make enough of those link­ages to solve or at least tem­per those chal­lenges com­mon to African-America men in At­lanta.

They’re be­ing helped along the way by part­ner­ships with Ful­ton County De­part­ment of Health & Well­ness and the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health, and they re­ceive fund­ing from AIDS Health­care Foun­da­tion, Gilead, and the com­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket­ing firm Edel­man among oth­ers.

The next step is some­thing HIPAt­lanta’s staff has been work­ing on for the past two years—build­ing an on­line plat­form to move things to the next level.

“If we can build the in­fra­struc­ture, we can then cre­ate jobs where we have peo­ple who are peer nav­i­ga­tors, we can cre­ate jobs for out­reach work­ers, and we can repli­cate the model across the na­tion,” Smith says. “That re­ally is the premise of HIP. It’s the so­cial impact model of hav­ing the health impact, hav­ing the eco­nomic impact, and cre­at­ing jobs while ad­dress­ing the pub­lic health is­sue. Our gap is now, es­pe­cially around African-Amer­i­can men, that we want to be part of the whole eco­nomic chain.”

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