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South Bay orgs get HIV grants for Getting to Zero

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Four South Bay organizations have received grants as part of Santa Clara County's Getting to Zero campaign to fight HIV and AIDS.

In his November LGBTQ newsletter, in which he announced the grants, gay Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager said the county-funded grants are part of reaching "the ambitious goal that I launched in 2016: zero deaths from HIV/AIDS, zero new infections, and zero stigma." The county-funded grants are from the San Jose-based Health Trust, a nonprofit that provides support to people living with HIV/AIDS, homeless people, children, and others.

One of the grants is going to Caminar, which got $19,550 in one-year funding for its San Jose-based LGBTQ Youth Space GTZ peer advocacy program.

Caminar spokeswoman Maryanne McGlothlin said the funds would be used to help LGBTQ youth develop as leaders and hold an educational series addressing topics such as HIV prevention, testing, and stigma through videos and other materials that "they think will help reach their peer group effectively."

The plan is to launch the series in January.

Rather than asking each youth leader to reach a specific number of people, McGlothlin said the aim is to educate "a wide number of people" throughout Santa Clara County on school campuses and other locations, as well as online.

She pointed out that HIV/AIDS isn't in the news as much as it used to be, and "there's still a lot of misinformation ... so we're trying to make sure youth are getting good information."

Cassie Blume, Caminar's director of LGBTQ programs, said staff have been "pleasantly surprised" to see 18 youth sign up to be peer educators, when they had been expecting eight to 12.

"We see really varied levels of understanding and awareness" among youth, said Blume. "... There's definitely an interest to know more and to help each other within their communities to understand better what kind of resources and information is out there."

McGlothlin said, "We're really honored to be part of this initiative. It's so important. We know the youth will do an amazing job."

The San Jose State University Research Foundation is getting funded for its SJSU to Zero project, which aims to boost prevention and PrEP and PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) use among the campus community, as well as decrease stigma, according to Yeager's newsletter.

San Jose's Planned Parenthood Mar Monte will use its grant to increase access to PrEP and PEP in the largely rural communities of Gilroy, Morgan Hill, and San Martin. There will be a special focus for teens and young adults, and the plan also includes increasing general sexual health testing and screening programs in the small cities.

Also in San Jose, the Roots Community Health Center's South Bay clinic got a grant for work that's similar to Planned Parenthood's, but rather than being geographically focused, it will be designed to reach the African-American and African ancestry communities, Yeager said in his newsletter.

"Focusing grant funds across these unique communities will serve to accelerate our progress," said Yeager. "I remain confident that together we will reach our goals."

The Getting to Zero initiative started in 2014 in San Francisco and, besides the work being done in the South Bay, work is also being done at the state level to reach the campaign's goals.

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