AIDS: Youth Pride reaches out on HIV/AIDS

Published: May 4, 2011

A minority, an LGBT-identifying member and an HIV-positive person—each comes with a sometimes unavoidable external stigma attached. Combine all three and it makes for a triple minority that could be vulnerable to depression and suicide. Youth Pride Services Inc. is committed to addressing these issues through its HIV/AIDS outreach for underrepresented GLBTQA youth of color.
Youth Pride Services Inc. ( YPS ) has implemented the Youth Pride Center ( YPC ) , on Chicago’s South Side, to work with often underfunded and socially ignored youths of color on the South and West side communities. Statistically, LGBTQ youths ages 13-24 are at greater risk for contracting HIV than their heterosexual counterparts, LBGTQ and heterosexual adults, according to University of South Florida College of Public Health researcher/evaluator Peter Gamache’s report, "HIV education for youth in transition to adulthood: Preliminary findings." Gamache also found that youth of color are at a significantly higher risk for HIV infections.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control conducted a similar study that focused on young men.

The CDC reported in 2008 that 55 percent of young men who have sex with men ( ages 15-22 ) did not let people know they were sexually attracted to, and engaging in sexual acts with, other males. They were then less likely to seek HIV testing. Even with alarming statistics and a lack of funding, YPC carries a mission to educate and advocate for youth of color who identify as HIV-positive as well as homeless youth of color, and the greater GLBTQA community.

In 2010, the National Youth Advocacy Coalition to Washington, D.C., invited YPC to the National HIV Best Practice Summit: LGBTQ Youth of Color and HIV Prevention. The summit was a four-day venture of HIV preventative best-practice, community building and sharing, and a presentation of some of the nation’s most cutting-edge youth-based, HIV advocacy organizations and their endeavors.

YPC, a division of Youth Pride Services Inc., was invited for its youth-led, social marketing campaign, Caution: Youth at Hope, Not at Risk. YPC’s former president, Frank Walker, was head of YPC when the organization was invited to D.C. Walker was excited to travel to the nation’s capital to present his organization’s campaign to other youth organizations and attendees. Walker attributes the success and draw of the Caution campaign to the fact that words such as "HIV/AIDS" weren’t plastered on promotional materials. Instead, the campaign took a more laid-back approach by communicating with youth in a manner that was relatable.

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