Renz Center is getting a $125,000 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services grant to kick off a project aimed at providing substance abuse and HIV prevention awareness and education to Latinos.
“We are excited the grant will allow us to increase our capacity to provide prevention education in areas of substances abuse and HIV,” said Deb Howe, director of marketing and fund development.
The Informate (Get Informed) Project will provide assistance to high risk Latinos to help reduce behaviors that lead to substance abuse and HIV infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Latinos are “disproportionately affected by HIV” compared to other races and ethnicities, its website states. The rates are three times as high as that of whites, it states.
Latinos made up 22 percent of new HIV infections in 2011, the latest figures available, according to the CDC.
Renz Center had a program for Latinas where it developed the idea of peer mentors. The mentors were trained on HIV education and went out into the community to talk with women in places like churches, hair salons and other gathering spots, Howe said. The program’s five year grant ended last year.
The new grant provides seed money for The Informate (Get Informed) Project, which will target men and women in the Latino community, Howe said. Peer mentoring will be part of the effort as well as monthly gatherings and social media, she said.
Renz counselors hope to reach a broader Latino audience through social media, which will feature messages in English and Spanish, Howe said. It is a good way to reach out to people who may be afraid to come to the center, for whatever reason, she said.
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