Unique program brings public awareness, STI testing to young women, transwomen of color

October 1, 2014

Project Elevate creates an integrated system of care and utilizes social marketing, community and population input and environmental strategies

CHICAGO — The AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC) is proud to announce a new community partnership funded as a part of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) community program Community Approaches to Reducing Sexually Transmitted Diseases (CARS).

This partnership is with the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Planned Parenthood of Illinois (PPIL). Together, these partners will launch “Project Elevate,” an innovative sexually transmitted infections (STI) prevention and treatment campaign created by and for young women of color (YWC) and young transgender women of color (YTWC) in Chicago that encourages young women to take control of their health.   The three-year CARS project will support the planning, implementation and evaluation of innovative, interdisciplinary interventions to reduce STD disparities, decrease barriers and stigma, promote sexual health, and advance community wellness.

Project Elevate is a community mobilization initiative that will utilize social marketing to promote STI testing to YWC and YTWC ages 12-24 who are highly vulnerable to STI transmission. The initiative includes community engagement with the use of community advisory boards, a social marketing campaign and partnerships with health care providers and schools to provide testing and treatment and health care services. In addition, the initiatives include the target population, resources and training to support and help young women stay STI negative, and, for those who are positive, help them get the treatment and health care they need. 

This partnership believes that everyone deserves access to affordable, quality health care and wants to engage the population and community in this multi-sectorial, health-integrated program and advance community health.

“What makes this initiative unique is that we will work directly with the young women we are trying to reach to create a campaign that resonates with the women themselves, as well as develop outreach and testing initiatives that will be successful,” said Cynthia Tucker, Director of Prevention and Community Partnerships at AFC. 

Health disparities for women of color remain a serious issue in Chicago and across the country as hundreds of thousands of individuals experience STIs. According to the Chicago Department of Health, in 2012, Chicago had a chlamydia rate twice the national average and a gonorrhea rate three times higher than the national rate. STIs are most likely to be diagnosed among 13-24 year olds, representing an astounding 71% of all reported cases. Nearly 95% of females with new STI diagnoses in Chicago were among Black/African-American women and Latinas. 

The program also has a strong training component, in which Project Elevate will explore STI/HIV/HCV strategies among partner organizations. Best practices and strategies will be shared with community providers and other partnerships.

Categorized under Prevention.

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