The School of Public Health at Georgia State University has completed training of the first group of community peer guides to work with high-risk populations in metro Atlanta affected by HIV/AIDS.
The Linkage to Care Peer Guide Training Program, funded by a grant from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, trains ex-offenders and others with experience in dealing with HIV and substance abuse-related issues to provide emotional support, encouragement, and direction to others in need of treatment for HIV/AIDS.
The peer guides will help address a major public health challenge in Atlanta, which ranks fifth in the U.S. for the rate of new diagnoses of HIV, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even more alarming, by the time HIV-positive people are diagnosed in Atlanta, nearly one-third already have developed AIDS, meaning their infection likely went untreated for years.
The peer guides undergo intensive training followed by a 10-week internship designed to enhance their capacity to promote HIV testing and to help HIV-positive people in high-risk communities receive the social and medical services they need. During the internships, the peer guides received ongoing support and additional training from researchers in the School’s Center of Excellence on Health Disparities Research.
The School is preparing to start training a new class of peer guides, with a focus on recruiting transgender women, who often find themselves marginalized by society, sometimes even within the gay and lesbian community. Donna Smith, a faculty member at the School of Public Health who is leading the project, said studies have found transgender women are one of the groups hardest hit by HIV/AIDS.
To learn more about the Linkage to Care Peer Guide Training Program, go to: https://goo.gl/u6nJdi