In 2007, Washington, DC was confronting a severe HIV epidemic. In a city of about 500,000 adult residents, there were 1,311 newly reported HIV cases in a year and 3.0% of adults and 6.3% of black men were living with HIV. Since then, DC has worked hard to end the HIV epidemic, and reduced new cases 79% by 2019 (DC Center on Aids Research).
However, DC still has the highest HIV rate in the country, with 39.2 infected per 100,000 people (CDC.gov). And although 90% of people with HIV in DC know their status, there is still a significant number who don’t know their status and unintentionally pass on HIV to others.
To help end the HIV epidemic in DC, Thrive DC is partnering with the CDC Foundation to reach the hardest to reach populations - those who are least connected to healthcare, and who have the highest distrust of institutions.
Thrive DC offers onsite HIV Self-Testing kits to any clients who are curious about their status, and connects people who test positive with medical partner organizations for more testing and counseling. We also host awareness events, and provide 1:1 counseling sessions to people concerned about their health.
Working together, we will end the spread of HIV in the District.
The CDC Foundation released the following press release on their new program, "Enhancing Community Capacity to Support HIV Self-Testing":
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in eight people living with HIV in the United States is undiagnosed, and more than one third of all new HIV infections are transmitted by people who do not know they have HIV. HIV self-tests, which can be done at home or in other private settings, are a confidential way for people to learn their HIV status, and this knowledge can help connect them to lifesaving prevention tools and treatment. To ensure more people have access to self-testing, the CDC Foundation announced more than $5 million in total support to 53 community-based organizations (CBOs) to establish and expand HIV self-testing programs within their communities.
Because of COVID-19 lockdowns and closures, HIV self-testing increased over the past two years, and it has proven to be a cost-effective way to make HIV testing more accessible in regions where healthcare is often a challenge—including rural, traditionally underserved and stigmatized communities. However, historic racial, ethnic and geographic disparities in healthcare coverage still exist, and there are many communities and populations that still do not have access to HIV testing services, including many of those most vulnerable to HIV.
CBOs—such as faith-based organizations, community health clinics, advocacy organizations, AIDS service organizations and others—are essential partners in HIV prevention and care and can help to expand self-testing in the communities that need it most. These vital organizations already complement the work of state and local health departments by offering health services to people not fully benefiting from existing HIV testing and prevention options. As trusted resources in their communities, CBOs can share important health information in ways that overcome stigma, misinformation and fear about HIV.
With CDC Foundation support, the CBOs funded in this effort will build upon their existing HIV work and establish new, culturally relevant self-testing programs that are tailored to their communities and include science-based information that is easy to understand. In addition, the CBOs will partner with neighborhood businesses, schools and religious institutions to communicate the importance of knowing one’s HIV status and enlist the help of respected local spokespersons in their outreach efforts.
Beyond financial support, the CDC Foundation is partnering with Community Education Group, a West Virginia-based HIV prevention-focused organization, to provide technical assistance, capacity-building support, and HIV self-tests to the funded CBOs.
“Self-tests can get more people tested by reaching them outside of traditional clinical settings,” said Judy Monroe, MD, president and CEO of the CDC Foundation. “Providing people with broader access to self-testing is a powerful tool that provides essential information to make informed decisions about HIV prevention and treatment.”
This project will expand the reach and impact of HIV self-testing programs through collaborative partnerships with medical clinics and local and national organizations while advancing the National HIV/AIDS Strategy (2022–2025).
To learn more, see list of organizations approved for funding through this program.
Amidst a local menstrual product shortage, Thrive DC continues to provide tampons and pads to 200 women per month.
Watch full news story here.
Local news channel in Washington DC, WCVM, released an article featuring Alicia Horton, Thrive DC's Executive Director. The article provides a summary of the PIT Count data as an overall decrease in homelessness across the district. However, it also notes that advocates in the city, such as Thrive DC, have pushed back on the data:
Homeless advocacy organization Thrive D.C. takes an issue with the way the city figures out who gets at the top of the help list. They say it’s based on a vulnerability scale and some people fall through the cracks.
“We’ve had clients who were who had cancer, for instance, and you know, had very bad prognosis, who weren’t eligible. So who died, you know, in unfortunate circumstances because they were not eligible or couldn’t get housed quickly in them,” said Alicia Horton, executive director for Thrive D.C.
Read the full article here.
American University Public Health Scholars Volunteer at Thrive DC
At Thrive DC, we are grateful to have Public Health Scholars from American University volunteer with us every Wednesday. From sorting mail, to putting together grocery bags of food, to organizing hygiene donations, these first-year students are making an incredible impact with their time -- all while getting to apply their theory-based education to tangible situations in the field.
Read more about their experience volunteering at Thrive DC.
Last month, a San Francisco-based clothing company, Everlane, opened its latest retail shop in Georgetown and donated a portion of their sales from opening day to Thrive DC. We are thrilled to announce that Everlane gave a total of $25,000 to help us continue serving clients at Thrive DC!
We are so grateful for Everlane's generosity and support of our mission to prevent and end homelessness through meeting the needs of our clients. We are honored to partner with a clothing company that stands firmly against the injustices of fast-fashion and promotes a motto of “radical transparency” by committing to ethical factories, environmental initiatives, and long-lasting quality.
To learn more, visit this article.
At Thrive DC, we are excited to share that the Barnes & Thornburg Racial and Social Justice Foundation has awarded us a $50,000 grant in support of our efforts to prevent and end homelessness. Their contribution will help us continue supporting our clients and offering both emergency and step-up services so that men and women in the DC area can stabilize their lives.
We are so grateful for our partnership with Barnes & Thornburg, and their support will help us to sustain and grow our current programs so that our most vulnerable neighbors can work towards self-sufficiency and independence. We can't wait to see how this grant will help our clients thrive in 2022!
To learn more, read the full press release.
The DCist highlights our new, expanded partnership with Community Family Life Services to provide housing to women after incarceration! In February of this year Thrive opened a new 7-bed transitional home, which is already operating at full capacity. In June, we will open a new 12-bed facility for this community.
As the DCist points out, this new housing will be the city's largest single program for female returning citizens.
Read more about our new housing from Executive Director Alicia Horton and hear from former client and returning citizen, Karen Collins here.
As vaccination distribution continues and data rolls in, it is clear that our response to the pandemic continues to be inequitable. How can we make vaccine distribution more effective for hard to reach communities?
Thrive DC's Executive Director Alicia Horton offers her suggestions in the Chronicle of Philanthropy's recent article "Nonprofits Step Up to Bolster COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts". Click here to read it
The pandemic continues to cause food insecurity for many people in the District. On Tuesday November 3rd, Alicia Horton joined Radha Muthiah, President and CEO of Capital Area Food Bank, and Gwendolyn Gantt, Community Outreach and Special Events Director at Stephen's Baptist Church, on The Kojo Nnamdi Show to discuss the tens of thousands of people in the DMV area who rely on food banks to put food on the table. Click the link below to listen and learn more.
Thrive DC Executive Director Alicia Horton discusses the impact that COVID-19 has had on our vulnerable populations and the steps we need to take to support them. Read it in the Washington Business Journal article linked below!