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!