Friday, April 24, 2009

A Very Special Day

I'm going off topic today because it's a very special day here in Heiligtum, Indiana. Today my partner Roland and I became legal parents of our daughter.
Our adoption is final.

My heart is filled with joy!



Thursday, April 16, 2009

News from Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry

The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry and Wabash Valley People Attempting To Help Inc. announced Tuesday a strategy to dramatically increase the availability of Rapid HIV testing for underserved communities in west-central Indiana via a mobile HIV prevention and testing van.

The announcement, made at Human Rights Day at Indiana State University, is part of a multipronged strategy to expand HIV/AIDS awareness and testing in communities throughout the state. This specific program will target Clay, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan, Vermillion and Vigo counties.

“The first step in halting the spread of HIV/AIDS is through education and to ensure that as many people as possible know their status and are counseled on proper care and prevention,” said volunteer director Jody Grieb. “We stand ready to assist any community health center or clinic as they expand the availability of Rapid HIV testing in underserved communities.”

To cover the gap in testing services, Grieb “unveiled” a mobile testing van. When one participant asked to see the van, Grieb gestured over his shoulder to a large parking lot and noted, “It’s over there”. To keep the testing process as anonymous as possible, the van has no identifying marks or symbols. “DEBI,” as the van is called, can provide testing services anywhere they are needed. Grieb noted that anyone can request testing by calling the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry offices at (812) 232-1381, extension 343, or 888-346-2631, or by going online to

The two clinics currently providing Rapid HIV testing are the Vigo County Health Department Clinic in Terre Haute and the Parke County Family Health and Help Center in Rockville. Grieb told participants that all community health clinics should expand access to Rapid HIV testing, including the Student Health Center at Indiana State University.

“As part of this initiative, I am encouraging every community health center and clinic to begin or increase their Rapid HIV testing,” Grieb said. “If we are going to reduce incidence of HIV/AIDS, we must have this fast, effective testing technology readily available to everyone.” Grieb also encouraged houses of worship to begin provide HIV testing at their sites as well.

Grieb noted that at the end of 2006, an estimated 1,106,400 people (95 percent confidence interval 1,056,400-1,156,400) in the United States were living with HIV infection, with 21 percent undiagnosed.

The Rapid test is important to slowing the spread of HIV because it overcomes a major obstacle in HIV testing. Getting the results in 15-20 minutes means people no longer have to wait one or two weeks and return to the testing site to get their results.

The test requires less than a single drop of blood from the fingertip. The fingertip is cleaned with alcohol and pricked with a needle to get a small drop of blood. Blood is transferred to a small plastic vial containing a solution. The test device is then inserted into the vial. The results can be read in as little as 20 minutes.

Grieb noted that since PATH began testing in October 2008, 99 percent of people who took the Rapid HIV test have received their results. Grieb cited a National Institute of Health study that estimates as many as 40 percent of those who have a traditional blood draw test never return for the results because it requires a two-week wait.

Grieb noted that of approximately 750 people his organization has tested in the Wabash Valley since October, 3 percent have tested positive for HIV antibodies.

The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry is a network of Disciples Home Missions, the enabling and coordinating division of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the area of congregational program and mission in North America. Wabash Valley PATH is a community-based organization in Terre Haute and is the Indiana liaison partner of the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry. Wabash Valley PATH is online at

From the Terre Haute Trib-Star:

Saturday, April 11, 2009

DEBI hits the road

Take a moment and look at the picture above. One of the vehicle in this picture is the Disciples Effective Behavioral Intervention van... aka DEBI!

From DEBI we will run our Mobile HIV Prevention and Testing in Rural Settings program. This program is designed to bring peer based HIV/STI prevention education, harm reduction services, counseling, and testing to rural areas. This mobile platform will help make the testing process as convenient, accessible and non-threatening as possible in order to address the proportion of high-risk individuals not accessing testing services in rural areas.

The drivers space and a passenger seat with a work space are contained in the forward cabin. The middle cabin will be used for prevention and education services and HIV testing while the rear compartment will be used for storage of supplies and educational materials. In addition to testing, DEBI will provide harm reduction items and wellness kits.

Testing can be offered at any location thanks to the anonymity of the van. When a client has a presumptive positive test result, transportation and an escort to receive confirmatory testing will be offered. The program will collaborate with an internet based social marketing campaign focused on raising awareness about HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections. At times, outreach workers from the campaign may work in conjunction with the mobile program and go into venues and approach more people about testing services offered on the MTU. The program also collaborates with internal STI testing programs at the appropriate county health department.

The primary goals of this program include:

· To identify HIV positive individuals who did not know their HIV serostatus prior to testing,

· To provide primary HIV prevention services,

· To teach participants the skills needed to protect themselves from HIV disease (partner negotiation, consistent and correct condom use, identifying STI symptoms, harm reduction related to IDU),

· To normalize the HIV testing process,

· To reduce health care disparities in rural areas,

· To facilitate the linkage of HIV positive individuals into care and social services, and

· To recruit peer educators/testers to volunteer with this program in the future.

DEBI will make her debut tonight at various nightclubs in Terre Haute, Indiana. Please pray that God will empower and protect those who volunteer on the van, as well as those we see and speak to throughout the evening.

The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry is hard at work raising funds to cover the cost of testing at General Assembly this year in Indianapolis. If you would like information on small things that your congregation can do to help this valuable ministry give me a call at 812.243.6402.

The Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry and Wabash Valley PATH are proud to introduce the DEBI van!