Augusta Chronicle Profiles Group Working To Address HIV/AIDS in Georgia
The Augusta Chronicle on Thursday profiled the group My Brothaz HOME, which aims to provide HIV/AIDS prevention education and support to people living with the disease in Georgia. The group was launched eight years ago in Savannah and recently expanded its operations to Augusta. According to the Chronicle, most funding for the group comes from the HIV Section in the Division of Public Health at the Georgia Department of Human Resources. Although it initially was aimed at men, the group now also targets women and young people. "We were founded based on the fact that at the time, in 2000, Savannah had the second-highest reported HIV/AIDS cases in the state," Mark Douglas, executive director and co-founder of the group, said. He added, "There was no other organization specifically geared toward working with men. So the other founders and I wanted to be a catalyst for change and start a movement based on HIV/AIDS prevention."
According to Douglas, when the group received more funding from the human resources department to expand, Augusta was at the top of the list. "It had a lot to do with the fact that Augusta, as of June, has the second-highest number of HIV/AIDS cases outside of Atlanta," Douglas said. According to the Richmond County Health Department, as of June, the East Central Health District had reported 2,515 HIV/AIDS cases. Since the group opened its Augusta office in February, it has reached 1,200 people in the area through community outreach, health education, prevention, case management and counseling services. The group also works with other organizations to provide service referrals for people living with HIV/AIDS.
"People are still not quite fully informed about the epidemic, and we have to educate them so we can beat it," Douglas said, adding, "The way to beat it is to meet people where they are through community outreach and bring awareness to everyone. But we can't do it alone. We are going to need the help of the entire community to beat this" (Dicks, Augusta Chronicle, 12/18).