Utilizing Educational Resources to Strengthen a Community

By: AIDS Foundation Houston

Founded in 1982 as Texas’ first organization dedicated to HIV prevention, education, and services, AIDS Foundation Houston (AFH) has steadily evolved from a grass-roots community agency to a professionally managed human services organization that provides many services including benefits and resources counseling, case management, housing, and food and nutrition assistance to low-income, HIV+ men, women, and children. Though our tenure, AFH has had the opportunity to align with community partners to best utilize all resources and provide clients best care locally and nationally.

During 2017, AFH noticed a shift in the landscape of HIV and began having a conversation with local college campuses and other community-based organizations. One conversation with the University of Houston Honors College Biomedical Sciences Department provided an opportunity to begin having a real dialogue about reaching areas in Houston identified through our local Health Department Surveillance team with a high HIV prevalence rate. The University of Houston Community Health Worker certification program was then identified as a way to reach highly affected areas within Houston’s Fifth Ward with an emphasis on Cuney Homes. This certification serves as a foundation for public health strategies and results in increasing education and awareness within the zip codes identified with the most significant burden of HIV transmission. Our relationship with the University of Houston allows the opportunity for their Community Health Workers (CHW) to become trusted, public health workers within their community.  Located directly across the street from Texas Southern University, the Cuney Homes development houses roughly 595 residents, many are University of Houston and TSU students who have figured out a way to live off-campus while keeping their rent affordable. Historically, Cuney Homes has been known for a higher crime and HIV infection rate. Over the years, crime prevention and community outreach have been provided in the community to further raise awareness and increase service to the Cuney Home residents.

AFH is excited to bring both National Library of Medicine (NLM) resources i.e.  MedlinePlus, AIDSInfo, AIDSource, print resources, and AFH PrEP information to a community that continues to benefit from education. AFH will begin the development of thumbs cards. The thumb cards will reflect NLM HIV/AIDS resources and AFH PrEP website information to increase awareness and engagement in prevention. Language development will be supported by community observation, tailoring images to reflect the targeted culture. AFH’s Community Advisory Board and hired CHWs will provide input on all materials developed. Cordinated under the AFH testing team, both education and free HIV/Syphilis testing will be provided as a collaborative effort to offer the most immediate services available.   Five CHW’s will be hired that directly represent Cuney Homes. Two of the applicants are the Cuney Homes President and Vice President, and both have tremendous community buy-in and engagement. During the CHW University of Houston certification training, the course study focused on teaching and communication skills, project management, community assessment and research methods, program assessment, and qualitative research.

Our innovative programs reach over 90,000 individuals throughout the state and nearly 6,000 in the Houston area. AFH is excited about the development of this Community Health Worker program led by the dissemination of NLM and AFH educational resources and looks forward to the community launch of resources during February 2018.

Learn more about AFH PrEP resources at:





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“Pop the Question” Update

By: Black Girl Health

As part of Black Girl Health’s National Social Video Campaign, social media users who view the ” pop the question”social videos created by BGH social influencers will be directed to the BGH website. The Pop the question campaign is focused on getting minority women to pop the question to their partners to get tested.

We are redesigning the BGH website so that it includes a “Pop the Question” page with NLM informed articles, HIV awareness videos and a “pop the question” evaluation survey.  The end users will take our Pop the Question survey to educate and prepare themselves for a successful #popthequestion moment with their significant other. You can view the landing page for the redesign as well as the survey by clicking on the link.


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Philadelphia FIGHT

Since its founding in 1987, the primary purpose of the AIDS Library, a program of the Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers, has been to ensure that accurate information gets into the hands of those who need it most. Over the past 30 years, we have watched as that information has changed forms, from medical journals to films, to websites and mobile apps. Now more than ever, we can leverage the power of online and mobile information technologies to reach people where they already are—in their communities.  Our 2017/2018 AIDS Community Information and Outreach Project “Connect Up, Fight AIDS: Putting Tech, Info, and Resources Where Health Happens” is an exciting initiative that will work to strengthen the ability of frontline staff throughout the city of Philadelphia to support those who access their services to locate the highest quality health information using the NLM’s MedlinePlus, AIDSInfo, AIDSource, and other online and print resources.


Critical health information needs to be easy to find where people live, work, learn, and play. In order to most effectively address HIV in Philadelphia, local communities must have access to treatment and prevention resources. We spent the first quarter of this project developing a training curriculum for non-medical frontline staff from a variety of city services including public computing centers (the KEYSPOTs), public libraries (the Free Library of Philadelphia), and rec centers.

While we will focus our outreach to the frontline staff in Philadelphia neighborhoods most impacted by HIV, we anticipate this training will have broad appeal. Our training goals are for public library staff, computer lab assistants, digital literacy and adult education instructors, and others to 1) learn how to conduct health-specific reference interviews; 2) gain a baseline knowledge of HIV, PrEP, and parallel health issues such as opioid addiction and hepatitis c; and 3) learn how to leverage NLM online resources to answer requests for health information from the Philadelphians they serve every day. These training’s aim to produce community-based experts who will bring these new skills and resources back to their local neighborhoods and customize those resources to best fit those who use their computer lab, take their adult education courses, or visit their library branch.

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Amgios Amantes

By: Prevention Collaborative

In 2016-2017, Spanish language focus groups informed the final look, feel and content of animated, Spanish language educational episodes. Titled, “Amigos y Amantes” (“Friends and Lovers”), the stories briefly show the risk-taking and decision-making choices of three young people, and the related concerns of Maria, the mother, and aunt of two characters. Each episode has a companion information sheet providing additional information about the episode’s topic, and the website also features a curated list of Spanish language resources to provide links to care and services. Details on the episode development and content are available in the four-part series of posts written for the ACIOP blog: Part 1, creating the characters; Part 2, character developmentPart 3, story development; and Part 4, final episodes.


As we developed and disseminated the project, focus group feedback and consultation with experts in the field indicated that while the community saw the need for an English language version of the Spanish content for bilingual audiences, it would not be adequate to simply translate the current scripts into English. It’s critical to remain sensitive to language and cultural considerations when discussing sexuality and risk, and it soon became clear that additional bilingual focus groups should be held to review content before English adaptations are made.

Since the current episodes end with the main characters agreeing together to go to a local clinic to get tested, we also wanted to add a final scene that shows those clinical encounters. As such, the goal of the 2017-2018 Amigos Y Amantes project is to continue and expand this work to create new content, develop an English language mirror site, and then conduct and evaluate an online marketing campaign for all materials to identify best practices for reaching Spanish speaking and bilingual English/Spanish communities via social media.

In the first quarter of our project, we conducted three additional focus groups with bilingual English-Spanish language speakers. We first had participants review existing content and talk about presenting those stories for a bilingual audience, including the incorporation of “Spanglish” and the need to remain clear and relevant across different Spanish speaking cultures.

We then brainstormed and evaluated ideas for the new episode and the feedback was discussed at several meetings of the creative team, which includes our artist and scriptwriter and several experts in public health and health education. Key points to be incorporated into our new episode include:

  1. Issues of insurance, particularly for young people who are on their parents’ coverage. This will be addressed through our character Isabel, who has made previous references to being a college student and so could realistically still be on her parents’ insurance. Consumers also wanted reiteration of the availability of free services, for underinsured, uninsured, and undocumented consumers.
  2. The need to present a wide range of clinical encounters, to show consumers what to expect when they visit a clinic. This will be incorporated into the story by showing the different characters experiencing different phases of the process. Isabel will get PrEP/PEP counseling, which also addresses the desire the audience had for content that isn’t exclusively focused on YMSM. In other scenes, Gabriel will get three-site STI testing; and Mateo will get HIV counseling and testing.
  3. A suggestion that we show “real world” consequences, reactions, and referrals. For example, an STI diagnosis that isn’t “overdramatic” because STIs can be quite common and can be treated, while also emphasizing the fact that most STIs are asymptomatic, and stressing the need for partner notification.
  4. Likewise, actionable information about HIV treatment, undetectable status, and partner notification. Mateo will receive a positive HIV diagnosis and be counseled about the need begin and adhere to medication.

While this 6th episode will conclude the new story development funded during this NLM contract year. However, through funding from a Ryan White Part D supplement, we will continue all three characters’ stories in additional brief vignettes that will explore the challenges of and benefits of being linked to care and staying healthy. All new English and Spanish language content are expected to be released in the spring and summer of 2018.

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By: Christian Bannister, YTH

YTH’s continued work with the National Library of Medicine [NLM] focuses on offering a new and novel approach to HIV prevention among transgender-spectrum youth and provides an update on the expansion of their they2ze mobile application. 


they2ze was created by YTH (youth+tech+health), with the help of the National Library of Medicine, and is designed to assist youth and young adults who identify within the transgender-spectrum with access to inclusive and vetted HIV resources, practices, and medical referrals. Launched in May of 2017, they2ze now has approximately 300 downloads and was featured at the 2017 National Transgender Health Summit in Oakland, CA.

The app, which was originally designed and piloted among the 9 counties that comprise the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, is now in its second phase of development that will expand its resources throughout the entire state of California. To assist with the expansion, YTH has spent the greater part of this quarter focusing on increasing community outreach by engaging with several transgender – spectrum youth providers and community leaders located in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Delano, Fresno, and Monterey, and is currently in the process of enhancing its trans-focused community advisory board to be more geographically representative of the state. The advisory board, whose main role is to provide a geographical and personable perspective, will include several new youth and young adults located throughout the state, all of whom identify within the transgender-spectrum who will offer their support and input on the expansion of the app.


This expansion comes in a timely manner for some California State counties who have been traditionally overlooked. Gloria Garcia, who works as an LGBT Community Worker at the California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) in Delano, CA, notes that many of their local clients don’t have access to trans resources and could benefit from an app like they2ze. “I am frustrated and tired of not being able to live my true self in my own home”, says one of Gloria’s Kern county clients. “I have been trying for over two years to get on hormones and I can’t; whether it’s a doctor or my insurance I feel like I am running into a wall”.  The they2ze state expansion is expected to be completed by the end of January with a soft release towards the end of March.

Learn more! The they2ze app is now available for download for iOS and Android users.

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Bringing HIV/AIDS Information to the Heart of the Commonwealth: University of Massachusetts Medical School

The University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) Lamar Soutter Library is excited about the launch of the AIDS Community Outreach Project, “Bringing HIV/AIDS Information to the Heart of the Commonwealth”. The project is a collaboration between the Lamar Soutter Library, AIDS Project Worcester (APW), and Worcester Public Library (WPL). The outreach project aims to improve the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS in Worcester and surrounding communities by increasing their knowledge of the disease through awareness and utilization of National Library of Medicine (NLM) HIV/AIDS resources through training, information outreach, and resource development. NLM resources include AIDSinfo, AIDSource, ClinicalTrials.gov, MedlinePlus, PubMed, and Public Health Partners.

The project includes building a training room at AIDS Project Worcester, train-the-trainer sessions conducted by the Lamar Soutter Library for AIDS Project Worcester and Worcester Public Library staff and volunteers, who will then provide training sessions as part of their outreach efforts. AIDS Project Worcester staff will train UMMS and Worcester Public Library staff on PrEP Navigator procedures in Central Massachusetts, then UMMS staff will train the partners on specific PrEP Navigator resources available through the NLM. Updates are planned to the AIDS Project Worcester website through a collaboration between project consultants and AIDS Project Worcester. The project also includes usability testing to better understand how APW staff, volunteers, clients, and the public use the website, along with a coordinated social media campaign to promote NLM resources and the services available from the project partners. In addition, Worcester Public Library will expand their collection of print and audio-visual resources to increase the quality and quantity of HIV/AIDS resources available to consumers in the Worcester area.

The “Bringing HIV/AIDS Information to the Heart of the Commonwealth” project improves the visibility of the services available from the collaborators and highlights the resources available to those living with HIV/AIDS, their families, caregivers, and at-risk populations in the Worcester area. The collaborators are very enthusiastic about the potential of helping clients and patrons get reliable HIV/AIDS information and the opportunity for them to learn computer and Internet searching skills, empowering both health care professionals and their patients. We are looking forward to the evaluation aspects of the project to hopefully support the successes of the project and provide lessons on areas for improvement in the future.

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YTH: Final they2ze Update

YTH provides a final update on their 2016-2017 ACIOP resource app, they2ze, and shares highlights and challenges associated with connecting transgender-spectrum youth, young adults, and providers with access to HIV and health-related referrals.

they2ze is a mobile application (app) created by YTH, designed by transgender spectrum youth (TSY) and their providers, and funded by the National Library of Medicine. they2ze was designed to assist TSY and their providers with access to inclusive and vetted HIV and health resources, best practices, and referrals. Launched in May of 2017, the app now has over 200 downloads, was featured at the national youth tech health conference YTH Live 2017, and has been a tailored resource for the TSY community in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. Additional funding has been secured for the second phase of the app (they2ze2.0) with plans to expand resources and access statewide throughout California and featuring a new PrEP navigation and PrEP management adherence tool. With the excitement of they2ze2.0, YTH takes a look back on some of the highlights and challenges that were presented since the inception of the they2ze app.

CAB: The development of this app would not have been possible without the hard work of the they2ze community advisory board (CAB). CAB members provided insights for the need, design, feel, and content from the community in which the technology was built. It was an inspiring and exciting piece to the development of this app! “Young people are having pivotal conversations around gender…”, community member Aaron Steinfeld notes, “they2ze meets that need for young people to find and interact with resources meant for them as they advocate for themselves and navigate their lives”.


The app while providing a means for self autonomy and exploration also functions as a tailored space dedicated and vetted for TSY and has been able to take into account all of the different barriers TSY encounter when accessing a medical provider. “Countless times I’ve been to a space I was told could help me with something…” community member, Tapakorn Prasertsith comments, “I’d show up and the groups would be out of my price range, or not meant for youth, or required insurance, or something else unexpected. There’s a specificity in these places on [they2ze] and now that I’m intimately familiar with many of them, can attest to their tags”.

Graphic Design: The acceptance from the TYS community has been incredibly positive with relation to the look and feel of the app itself. The color scheme and characters of the app has been highly accepted by the TSY community, where users can identify with many of the digital characters presented on the homepage of the app. The visual design has also attracted TSY-serving providers within the community who have provided praise. “A lot of apps that are niche apps look like they are somebody’s dream child”, says Dr. Mosser of the Gender Confirmation Center of San Francisco, “they are very amateurish, but [not] this app. I was speaking with someone just recently about how blown away we both were that they must have a team of designers, user interface experts, and coders, that really know what they’re doing because it’s a really flawless execution for something that’s, a niche project; a really important project but something that’s really focused to a specific demographic.”

Reach: With over 200 current downloads, maintaining an active increase in user downloads has been one of the main challenges associated with they2ze. Because the app targets a very specialized and concentrated community, whose access to inclusive digital information may be limited, they2ze’s exposure has proven to be a bit more successful when done in-person. The they2ze team has attended numerous events, such as the SF Pride Transgender March, and has teamed up with local businesses to table and promote they2ze. Further, youth who identify somewhere within the transgender spectrum (from questioning all the way to transitioning) do not necessarily identify within the LGBTQ community. Keeping our marketing broad and specific has been a key to getting the word out, and a challenge in the same respect.


YTH and the they2ze team teaming up and tabling with the Gender Confirmation Center of SF for a Charity Benefit hosted by SoulCycle in the Castro


Coverage: Currently in the pilot phase, the they2ze app development and TSY/provider resources encompasses the geographical area of the San Francisco Bay Area region. App outreach and marketing has been focused on this region, however, the app has managed to make its way across the nation with downloads occurring outside of the SF Bay Area. YTH’s team has received out of state users and providers who have requested additional support in states like Florida, Utah, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, and Arizona–to name a few. YTH is excited to see the acceptance and feasibility of the app as a desired need beyond the pilot area, and hope acquire the resources to expand the app even further than the next phase’s California expansion.

Provider Support: With the opportunity for more TSY-serving providers to have access to a digital resource and referral network useful for their practices and patients, providers have given exceptional support for the they2ze app. A few supportive comments about they2ze:

“As it stands right now, there is a hodgepodge of micro networks of trans folks and the people who care about them who are constantly asking for recommendations for the same services. Most of our orgs are budgetarily constrained and lack the staff needed to build strong community-wide networks of support. It would be revolutionary to be able to link all these providers together with all of these queer micro-networks of support in one portal [like they2ze]”

~ Nicole Vanderheiden, a Chief Administrator at TransForming Families in

   Minneapolis, Minnesota and frequent ACLU guest columnist

“I can use they2ze to assist patients to find resources. Even LGBTQ providers can benefit from apps that help find LGBTQ resources.”

~ they2ze Provider user

Overall, YTH has been pleasantly surprised with the amount of excitement from users who are out of state and are hoping that they2ze can one day become a nationwide system of support.

The they2ze app is now available for download for iOS and Android users.

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