Project Title: The Allentown Collaborative Project: A Community-Based Approach to Preventing HIV and Substance Use Among At-Risk Minority Youth
Description: This project, a collaboration between Valley Youth House Committee, Inc. (VYH) and Comprehensive Health Services (CHS - formerly the AIDS Activities Office), a Lehigh Valley Hospital practice, targets at-risk racial/ethnic minority youth, ages 13-24, with a focus on young men of color, particularly young men who have sex with men and young transgender women of color and others at high risk for HIV/STIs, viral hepatitis and substance use (SU). The primary geographic catchment area is the City of Allentown, a minority majority city with a population of 120,000, part of the Lehigh Valley (Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton)–the third largest region of Pennsylvania. The Allentown Collaborative Project will expand the existing partnership between the two organizations, ensure that screenings for SU are incorporated into their programs, and add new partners. The Project’s primary, evidence-based, structural intervention model is VYH’s Project Silk – Lehigh Valley (PSLV), a recreation-based drop-in center for LGBTQ youth incorporating screening/testing and education on HIV and SU. The addition of a PSLV-based Lead Navigator as well as a CHS Peer Navigator will increase the capacity of the two organizations to meet the needs of this youth population. Goal 1. To increase the capacity of the Allentown Collaborative Project to address high-risk behaviors among the target population that may contribute to SU disorders, HIV, and/or viral hepatitis. Goal 1 Objectives: By the end of month 4 of Year 1, there will be 3 focus groups comprising members of two youth target populations (13-20 and 21-24) and community providers to inform project development, with quarterly meetings thereafter for a total of 20 focus groups over the 5-year period; By the end of month 6 of Year 1, 2 new social media public awareness campaigns will be developed targeting ages 13-20 and 21-24, with new monthly campaigns thereafter over the 5-year period, reaching at least 1,400 youth annually and 7,000 over the course of the grant period; and by the end of month 4 of Year 1 there will be at least 3 signed MOUs with direct service providers and other community agencies, and a minimum of 5 community agencies by the end of Year 1 that will be active partners of the Allentown Collaborative Project. Goal 2: To increase the number of youth among the target population tested, screened and connected to services for substance use disorders, HIV, and/or viral hepatitis. Goal 2 Objectives: By the end of Year 1 there will be 50 new youth screened for SU and tested for HIV and viral hepatitis, and at least 60 each year thereafter, for a total of 290 over the 5-year period; Of those testing positive and/or screened for SU, at least 50% will receive navigation services during the 5-year period; and there will be at least 3 educational trainings annually of healthcare providers on HIV and substance use prevention, for a total of 15, reaching approximately 750 providers and healthcare workers over 5 years.