Substance Abuse Resources & Disability Issues

Josephine F. Wilson, D.D.S., Ph.D., Director

Sisters Empowered to Test Sisters Aware of their Status

The Sisters Empowered Sisters Aware (SESA) Program is designed to utilize three of the four unique strategies of this project to identify high-risk heterosexual African American women age 18 and older who live in Dayton, Montgomery County, Ohio, with undiagnosed HIV infection and link them to medical care and prevention services. Current lifestyle situations could include homelessness, IDU, sex-workers, multiple sex partners, substance abuse and sexually transmitted diseases.

The three strategies used to accomplish this goal are targeted outreach (TO), alternative venue testing (AVT) and social networks (SN). The TO objective is to canvas the target area and provide HIV testing at specific sites that are primarily comprised of high-risk African American women. Those identified through this strategy will be assessed on their high-risk status through personal interview and risk-assessment completion. HIV testing or referral to testing will be offered immediately following the session.

Alternative venue testing seeks to provide outreach education/information to increase awareness of testing for the high-risk targeted population. The intent is to provide educational opportunities for the target population to become aware of their risk of HIV transmission. Those identified through this strategy will be assessed on their high-risk status through personal interview and risk-assessment completion. HIV testing will be offered to those individuals as well.

The objective of the social network strategy is to utilize HIV-positive and/or highest-risk African American women to recruit their peers for testing. This strategy is a recruitment strategy for reaching and providing HIV counseling, testing and referral services to persons who are unaware of their HIV infection. This program will capitalize on the relationship between the recruiters and their social networks for the testing and linkage to care. The individuals who test positive or are highest risk negatives are enlisted as recruiters to identify and recruit persons from their social, sexual or drug-using networks (network associates) who may be at risk for HIV infection. The network associates are referred to HIV counseling and testing services at a designated site, and those who are found to be infected, or at very high risk for becoming infected, are referred to appropriate medical care and prevention services.