VOACC’s Minority AIDS Initiative will serve Latinx adults of Washington, DC.

Contact: Nicholle Granger

January 02, 2023 Washington, DC

Adding to its existing Yo Creo En Mi (“Faith in Me”) program, which is an outpatient integrated behavioral health program offering specialized services to Hispanic/Latino individuals living with mental illness, substance use disorders, or co-occurring disorders, Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas (VOACC) was recently awarded a grant, for $500k a year for 4 years from The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to create the Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) to serve Latinx adults within all wards of Washington, DC.

Using evidence-based and informed, and culturally relevant practices, VOACC aims to create a rich continuum of care that engages the population of focus through prevention, early intervention/harm reduction, treatment, and long-term recovery for both HIV and co-occurring disorders.

This new MAI program will strengthen the already existing integrated care model VOACC has implemented. Knowing there is a direct connection with physical health, the behavioral health and social issues, such as housing, trauma, food insecurity, recovery, purpose & meaning VOACC’s programs strive to really impact people's lives and ultimately their health.

“Within the District of Columbia, the Latinx community has been identified as a population least likely to seek medical care. Some of the barriers preventing them from seeking care include fear of disclosing immigration status, language barriers, lack of cultural sensitivity, and the stigma still associated with HIV/AIDS.”

Says Tanyka Abbott, Senior Director of Clinical Services, DC Hope Center.

“The Minority AIDS Initiative (MAI) grant provides VOACC with the opportunity to remove these barriers by providing the integrated behavioral health, primary healthcare, and supportive services to Latinx groups and their families.”

This MAI grant, will provide screening and assessment to at least 400 individuals using a mobile-outreach strategy. VOACC will travel to hotspots within all eight wards to distribute harm reduction supplies such as clean needles, non-perishable foods, safe sex kits, pregnancy tests, first aid kits, and more.

With this funding and a focus on whole-person care, VOACC will also assess, provide, and/or coordinate with partners to find solutions, support, treatment for the whole person and contribute to a healthier DC community.

Working closely with the DC Mayor's Office of Latino Affairs and Nova Salud, an HIV/AIDS prevention organization based out of Northern Virgina, VOACC will offer total wrap around services including, but not limited to HIV rapid testing, Case Management,, SUD treatment and recovery support services, Day Rehabilitation Services, MAT (Medically Assisted Treatment,) and Peer Support.

The District of Columbia is one of the hardest hit by the HIV epidemic and The Latinx community makes up about 11% of Washington D.C.’s population, making them the second largest minority group.

About Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas

Volunteers of America Chesapeake & Carolinas, Inc. (VOACC) is a faith-based, nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower self-reliance and inspire hope. As a church without walls, we do this through personalized housing, ministry, health, and human services that benefit vulnerable individuals, their families and the community.

VOACC has more than 49 programs throughout Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia and the Carolinas that provide homeless services, supportive housing, behavioral health, substance use recovery, intellectual/developmental disability services, veteran services, community re-entry and workforce development.

VOACC leverages over 800 staff members and more than 2,000 volunteers to support more than 10,400 individuals and families every year. For more information on VOACC, please visit www.voachesapeake.org.

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