Washington, D.C., Program Recruits Former Drug Dealers To Promote HIV Prevention
In a front-page story, the Washington Post reports that former drug dealers are working as counselors in Washington D.C.'s HIV hard-hit areas. "In wards 7 and 8 where the HIV infection rates are among the highest in the District, where many of the city's ex-convicts live and where many of its arrests occur former drug dealers are being recruited as HIV counselors ... The two wards have what HIV/AIDS workers call hard-to-reach populations, the people least likely to be tested for and informed about HIV/AIDS and most likely to spread it. They are the kind of people drug dealers come face to face with every day." The 11-month-old program is run by A. Toni Young, executive director the Community Education Group. Young said, "We don't say in our job description that only drug dealers need apply, but the reality is that men and women who soldiered illegally on the streets have the skills for what we do." The counselors undergo training and education on HIV. They distribute condoms, conduct outreach and refer people to support services (Fears, 8/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.