Medical

Damien Center to launch Latinx program to curb number of HIV infections

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Thanks to grant money from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Damien Center will be launching the Latinx Prevention Program to help Latino men affected by HIV.

The center says its program will help reduce the number of new HIV infections in Marion County, increase access to care, and promote “health equity” and disparities in care for Latinx men who have sex with men. The Latinx population is both underserved and heavily impacted by HIV.

HIV is spread most often through sexual contact; shared or contaminated needles or syringes; infected blood or blood products; and from infected women to their babies at birth or through breastfeeding.

“For Latinx populations, it’s often very hard to access systems of care. Sometimes, there aren’t the language services or the cultural competency there and sometimes it doesn’t feel safe to go to some larger systems. What we want to do is provide a safe, homey environment,” said Alan Witchey, the president and chief executive officer of the Damien Center.

The center will receive $2,208,125 over five years.

The center aims to increase receipt of HIV medical care and antiretroviral therapy (ART) among persons with newly diagnosed HIV; increase access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), ; increase access to condoms; increase health department and community engagement; among other things.

PrEP is medicine people at risk for HIV take to prevent getting HIV from sex or injection drug use.

The grant already has allowed the center to hire six new employees for this program, which is expected to roll out in November.

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