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Aids prevention center trains the trainers

DENVER – Sound HIV/AIDS prevention education and effective treatment programs for American Indian and Alaska Native populations starts with competent and well-educated staff at the scores of health agencies across the nation.

After all, as an ethnic group, Natives are ranked third-highest in the country as being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, according to reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

And this is where the National Native American AIDS Prevention Center steps in to lend a helping hand to agencies that are in need of both proper training and resources to reduce the numbers of newly diagnosed cases.

Earlier this year, the center awarded 10 grants to agencies to participate in two-day training seminars that cover grant writing, Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Interventions readiness, and the Safety Counts program. The center received a $50,000 grant from the CDC to carry out the training. The first training commenced Sept. 5.

NNAAPC Executive Director Warren Jimenez said the center provides two trainers, curriculum and handouts for each training seminar. “We’re really excited about this grant program because it really lends us an opportunity to work with some regional and local groups, which historically we haven’t worked with before.”

For the first time, the center worked with the Muskogee Creek Indian Tribe of Taylor County on grant writing Sept. 5 – 6. Jimenez, Chumash, said that the trainers focused on teaching the attendees on how to write grants that will appeal to both the CDC and federal government. “What we want to do in Indian country is build capacities with organizations to help them specifically apply for the grant.”

Jimenez also explained that two trainers could handle up to 40 students. With grant writing, however, smaller is better. He said that no more than 15 people attended the Florida training.

“Our initial feedback from them is that they were really excited about the training,” he said. “With the two-day training we want to make sure that we keep people interested and were able to convey that knowledge transfer of building those skill sets.”

The remaining two grant writing workshops are scheduled at the Missoula AIDS Council in Helena, Mont., Oct. 23 – 24 and the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS in Phoenix, Ariz., Jan. 27 – 28.

Meanwhile, trainers are preparing for the Diffusion of Effective Behavioral Interventions readiness training for the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council in Lac du Flambeau, Wis., Oct. 7 – 8. Jimenez described a DEBI program as a scientifically based and effective program that a HIV/AIDS agency can utilize to reach its targeted demographic.

“We give some baseline information about the DEBI [programs] that are out there and available to the populations.”

The challenge for agencies is selecting one that best meets client need and demographics. But a part of the training evaluates whether the organization has the proper infrastructure to implement a DEBI, Jimenez said.

The Safety Counts trainings focus on the actual Safety Counts DEBI, which the center adapted to meet the needs of Native populations. According to the CDC, the Safety Counts DEBI targets out-of-treatment active crack and injection-drug users, with the goal of eliminating or reducing risky sexual and drug behaviors in program participants.

Native activists, social workers and public health officials founded NNAAPC in 1987. They assist agencies with prevention, intervention, care and specific treatment programs. They also serve the needs of Native Hawaiian populations.

Aside from its array of prevention and treatment programs, the center works on breaking down barriers that generate stereotypes and stigmas that may stand in the way of agencies and community groups from reaching at-risk populations. For example, they continually work on stomping out discrimination and homophobia.

For more information on the training seminars, programs, news and the latest statistics on HIV/AIDS, visit www.nnaapc.org/index.htm.