Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
DETROIT – Working together, AIDS Partnership Michigan and the Ruth Ellis Center have won a $2 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The real winners, though, are at-risk young black men aged 13-24. Using grant funds, REC and APM will work together with the youth to create HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness programs, as well as providing free testing, counseling and health care referrals.
“Not only will they receive services, but they will design and create a model for themselves that works because they will have defined it and they will implement it,” said Grace McClelland, REC’s executive director. The Ruth Ellis Center is one of only four organizations in the country that provides shelter and other services to homeless and at-risk LGBTQ young people in a gay-affirming atmosphere.
The leadership of the two organizations applied for the grant during the summer, said APM Executive Director Barbara Murray.
“APM has been doing counseling and testing for REC for almost 2 years, and you can’t do that and not realize what kind of population you’re dealing with and some of the risks that these young people get into. And it started to kind of gnaw at us,” Murray said.
The two agencies will together hire a project director, a full-time youth mental health specialist, and two empowerment group facilitators/outreach workers, with REC supervising some of the staff and APM supervising others.
However, “We’re going to do our damndest to make this about the program, not which agency you work for,” said Murray.
“Our expectation is that the young people won’t know which staff works for which agency because they will work so well together,” she said.
The program will be funded for the next five years.
Over the long term, program goals include bringing about a measured decrease in new HIV infections in the city and near suburbs of Detroit through frankness and openness about HIV and safe sex issues, voluntary practice and reporting of safer sex, and sufficient alternative social space in which the new behaviors can continue.
Metro Detroit is home to 45 percent of MichiganÕs population and 67 percent of Michigan residents living with HIV and AIDS. While increasing proportions of women and heterosexuals are becoming infected, HIV-positive metro Detroiters continue to be mostly men who have sex with men, black and 25-44 years old at time of diagnosis.
“We’re extremely happy to be working with APM, who we respect and who have taken care of most of our youth from an HIV prevention and case management perspective. It is because of their outstanding work in HIV and AIDS that we chose to partner with them,” said McClelland.
“REC and APM share a lot of common values and insight about young people and reaching out to those kids – we’re letting them know they’re good kids and there’s not thing wrong with them. And we’re going to help them,” Murray said.
For more information or to donate to AIDS Partnership Michigan, visit http://www.aidspartnership.org. For more information or to donate to the Ruth Ellis Center, visit http://www.ruthelliscenter.com.