Outreach staff take a team approach to reducing the number of new HIV infections that occur in northeast Indiana each year. To meet the need for prevention in our community, the Positive Resource Connection has several programs available: HIV/STD prevention and education; HIV testing and harm reduction counseling; youth education and empowerment; pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); street outreach; and general awareness. All of these programs are free of charge to the public.
HIV/STD and Hepatitis Prevention Education
This program targets populations heavily impacted by new HIV infections in 12 counties in northeast Indiana (Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Jay, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, and Whitley counties). Through prevention education, individuals are educated on what HIV/AIDS is; transmission, progression, treatment, and prevention; information regarding substance use and its correlation with HIV; information about other STDs, including untreated STDs and the increased risk for HIV transmission; and risk reduction and behavior change.
All individuals are given medically accurate information and access to other places of support and HIV testing. Because prevention education targets those most at-risk, especially those dealing with substance use, outreach staff addresses the correlation among substance use, unprotected sex, and the increased risk for HIV. Education also includes a strong risk reduction component that focuses on identification of one’s own risk behaviors, decreased sexual activity when influenced by substance use, decreased number of sexual partners, and increased knowledge of HIV. The Positive Resource Connection works with over 100 organizations and agencies in our region in providing prevention education.
HIV Testing and Harm Reduction Counseling
The Positive Resource Connection has trained HIV Prevention Counselors on staff who conduct HIV testing and harm reduction counseling to anyone requesting an HIV test. The agency provides HIV testing during prevention education, has public testing sites in all 12 counties served, and provides testing at community events. HIV testing is primarily done through an oral rapid test called OraQuick©. Results are typically available in 20 minutes. If someone has a “reactive or preliminary positive” on the OraQuick test, trained staff will immediately conduct a confirmatory test, which takes two weeks for result. Any person who is confirmed HIV positive can be immediately linked to care coordination services. Please see our list of testing sites to find a location near you.
This program works with youth between the ages of 13 and 19 on issues surrounding HIV, STDs, and hepatitis. The youth program is designed to empower youth by providing them with accurate information about HIV and STDs and supports them in an effort to reduce their risk for the future. Our program is multi-session (two or more) and can be formatted to fit any group of adolescents. It is designed to motivate behavior change, build confidence, and teach youth the skills needed to make healthy decisions.
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis or PrEP
PrEP is a powerful HIV prevention tool but is only considered for people who are HIV negative and at a very high risk for HIV infection (see federal guidelines for PrEP recommendations). PrEP is a pill that must be taken daily to be effective, and anyone on PrEP must follow-up with their physician every three months. The Positive Resource Connection is able to refer anyone who meets the federal guidelines for PrEP to a physician. All persons who qualify for PrEP can receive the appropriate HIV test and referral by making an appointment with the Positive Resource Connection.
Street outreach includes handing out information on HIV/STDs and hepatitis, making referrals for HIV testing or STD testing through the Fort Wayne – Allen County Health Department, or making ourselves available to answer any questions.
This includes setting up an informational table and/or having HIV testing at a community event, providing staff in-services on HIV, STDs, and hepatitis, conducting agency promotions, doing one-on-one education, or providing materials for anyone who needs information.