CHER Awarded PPOWER Project

CHER recently received a three-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to fund the Peer Promotion of Wellness and Enhanced Linkage to Care (PPOWER) Project. PPOWER aims to help motivate young black men who have sex with men (YBMSM) and individuals within their social networks to get tested for HIV and HCV due to high rates of HIV infection and low rates of HIV/STI testing among this population. The project will also provide a brief intervention for those who are dealing with alcohol abuse issues as well as substance abuse. CHER is reaching out to YBMSM on the CSULB campus and is collaborating with community partners to outreach out to YBMSM and their sex and drug-using partners in the local community. Partners include Behavioral Health Services Inc., The LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, CSULB Student Health Services, CSULB Office of Multicultural Affairs, CSULB Student Health Services, CSULB LGBT Resource Center, St. Mary Medical Center’s C.A.R.E Program, and the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to helping with participant recruitment, community partners will provide services such as HIV/HCV testing, treatment for individuals who test positive for HIV/HCV, and referral services as needed. Behavioral Health Services, Inc. will lead PPOWER intervention activities in the community.

PPOWER is currently half way through its first year and project staff are preparing for the launch of the project during the summer. CHER staff have been working on the required documents for the CSULB Institutional Review Board and SAMSHA, and new staff, Health Educators/Outreach Specialists who will enroll and counsel PPOWER participants, have been hired. The selection of volunteer outreach staff known as “Peer Advocates” is also currently under way. PPOWER staff was trained in the spring on the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS), which was tailored to fit the needs of project’s target population and will be provided to PPOWER participants who identify as having issues with alcohol use. A PPOWER website and Facebook page are under development, both of which will be used to recruit participants in the upcoming months.