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Editor's note: In the weeks leading up to AIDS Walk & Run San Diego in September, SDGLN will profile some of the HIV/AIDS service organizations that directly benefit from the event's fundraising efforts.
SAN DIEGO -- Although its name may cause many to believe that its programs are only intended towards followers of the Jewish faith, Jewish Family Service of San Diego (JFFSD) provides a myriad of social, health and welfare services to all San Diegans.
As a beneficiary of last year's AIDS Walk & Run San Diego, JFFSD's "Talking About Tina" (TAT) program is a support/harm reduction group for HIV-positive men who have sex with men and who use crystal meth.
In a group setting, TAT participants have a safe and nonjudgmental space to talk about ambivalence related to meth use, relationships, community norms, health issues, sex, and past and present struggles with drug use.
The group also includes education and skill-building training that focus on strategies to limit the harm associated with drug use, identify triggers, prevent relapse, increase positive supports, and improve sexual health. Group facilitators also provide referrals to community resources as needed.
A 2009 study called "Methamphetamine and HIV in San Diego County," conducted by SANDAG and Family Health Centers of San Diego, found that:
* The meth-sex relationship leads to sexual behaviors that may put clients at greater risk for HIV or STD infection and relapse;
* Meth is a social drug, with clients frequently being introduced to the drug by sexual partners, and continuing to use either within larger sexual networks or one-on-one;
* Additional staff training and services related to drug treatment, mental health, staff training, harm reduction and outreach are needed to more effectively serve meth users.
JFFSD says that the TAT program has been successful in serving the HIV-positive meth-using population, with 210 group sessions being held since the service began in 2006. The 144 clients of the program attended an average of 10 sessions each year, and participants reported being better able to manage meth cravings and HIV/AIDS symptoms; making more effort to decrease harmful effects of meth; having higher quality social support; having less out of control behaviors; and being better able to balance self-care and partying at year-end than when they began participating in the group.
Many participants went on to enroll in residential drug treatment and sober living facilities; initiated psychiatric and/or HIV/AIDS medication; renewed HIV/AIDS primary care; and found employment.
The TAT program received $39,998 from the San Diego HIV Funding Collaborative, which is responsible for granting the more than $500,000 that is raised from AIDS Walk & Run San Diego.
TAT meets on Thursdays from noon to 1:30 pm at The Center, 3909 Centre St. in Hillcrest. For more information, click HERE.
AIDS Walk & Run San Diego will be held at 8 am Sunday, Sept. 25, in Balboa Park. For more information or to register, click HERE.