October 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Us Helping Us lands $1.5 million federal grant

The local D.C. AIDS service organization Us Helping Us received a $1.5 million grant earlier this month from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide expanded HIV prevention services for black gay men between the ages of 18 and 29 over a five-year period.

The grant, which will provide Us Helping Us $300,000 in funding per year during the term of the grant, will enable the group to provide HIV testing and counseling and HIV prevention through two CDC approved programs known as Healthy Relationships Intervention and “Mpowerment Intervention.”

Both programs employ proven techniques shown to reduce risky behaviors among men who have sex with men that could lead to HIV infection.

“We are honored to be one of only 34 agencies across the nation funded to provide programs and services targeting young minority gay men and transgender youth,” said Ron Simmons, president and CEO of Us Helping Us.

“Recent data show that young black gay and same-gender loving men have a particularly high and increasing risk of HIV infection. We view this project as a great responsibility that can be a significant factor in reducing HIV infection in our community,” he said.

Simmons said the “Mpowerment” program calls for the establishment of a youth-run center for gay youth and their friends as a means of building awareness for reducing the risk of HIV infection.

“There has never been such a center in the District,” he said. “Creating it will be a challenge, but it is an exciting challenge.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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