Youth Connections Program
Children and teens in the District of Columbia are disproportionately affected by HIV and AIDS.
Reports estimate more than 1,500 HIV positive youth (ages 13 – 24) live in Washington, DC and many are unaware that they are infected with the virus. A related concern is the majority of HIV positive teenagers and young adults not connected with vital medical care and social support services.
Youth Connections works to connect and/or re-connect youth who are HIV positive to medical care and social support services. The program members represent an extensive network of individuals, health professionals, and community leaders dedicated to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and ensuring access to appropriate care for those infected with the virus.
Connections to Care
In 1990, President Bush signed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act into law. Ryan White was a teenager who garnered national attention when he became infected with HIV through a blood transfusion. At the time, the disease was associated with negative social stigmas, and there was still a great deal to learn about the condition.
Part D of the Act focuses on programs and services for families affected by HIV and AIDS. Youth Connections is a Ryan White Part D funded project dedicated to educating youth, their parents, and caregivers as well as community medical providers, about the importance of encouraging young people to learn their HIV status through HIV counseling and testing.
The objectives of the Youth Connections program are accomplished through collaborative agreements between Children’s National Medical Center, five community-partner agencies, and a network of Care Advocates.
Care advocates are:
- Young adults selected and trained specifically to work with youth
- Employed and based at each of the five partner sites as well as Children’s National
- Skilled as HIV pre- and post-test counselors
- Able to help young people see the value of learning their HIV status
- Available to support young people through the HIV testing process
- Able to work closely with primary care providers in the community to link newly diagnosed HIV positive youth to medical care and support service
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