As part of our work in the Adolescent Medicine Trials Network for HIV/AIDS Interventions (ATN), The Fenway Institute is a site of the community-based research project Connect to Protect®: Building a Community-Based Infrastructure for HIV Prevention. The national mission of C2P is to reduce HIV/AIDS rates among adolescents and young adults through collaborative efforts of communities and health researchers.

C2P Boston launched in December, 2011, completed its initial strategic planning process during the summer of 2012 and, during the summer of 2013, recognizing that young Black men who have sex with men and transgender-identified youth are most impacted by HIV in our city, committed to working through the lenses of health equity and racial justice to ensure that we address structural racism through our structural change efforts.

The C2P Boston coalition engaged in trainings in Health Equity and the Impact of Racism on Health and Racial Justice Framing led by young people and Abigail Ortiz, MSW, MPH, Director of Community Health Programs at the Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center and, following  these trainings, engaged in a re-evaluation of our strategic plan and mission through a racial justice lens.

Working off the following definition of racial justice: “the creation and proactive reinforcement of policies, practices, attitudes and actions that produce equitable power, access, opportunities, treatment and outcomes for all,” at C2P Boston’s second anniversary meeting in January of 2014 we ratified our newly revised mission which reads:

The mission of C2P Boston is to identify, develop, and catalyze prevention strategies that will reduce HIV infection rates among young Black men who have sex with men and transgender-identified young people in the City of Boston. Racism (a system of advantage based on race that benefits White people) has a direct impact on these issues. We will ensure these strategies are always deliberate, inclusive, and in pursuit of racial justice through partnerships with organizations and individuals committed to our shared values and goals.

Using a racial justice framework, our goal is to ultimately reduce HIV incidence and prevalence among Black youth and young adults in Boston, ages 12-24, through community mobilization and structural change.

C2P Boston’s bylaws were also ratified at this meeting and are currently being signed by organizations and individuals who are part of the coalition’s efforts.

Since completion of our racial justice trainings, C2P Boston’s Stigma, Sex Ed, Linkage to Care and Department of Children and Families (DCF) subcommittees have been working to ensure that all of our coalition’s our structural change efforts are clearly informed by a racial justice lens:

  • Stigma is currently working to address the social determinants of health and the impact of the institutions of church, family and social networks through supporting the creating of further youth-focused events on our “liturgical calendar” that will help address issues of HIV, sexual orientation and gender identity-based stigma in the Boston community. During this past fall, winter and spring, the C2P Boston Stigma Subcommittee, along with The Fenway Youth Community Advisory Board, have built collaborations between youth, faith and community-based organizations to create and implement events in honor of National Coming Out Day, World AIDS Day and Valentine’s Day.  Events have been held at various locations in North Dorchester and have been successful in engaging both youth and adults in meaningful stigma-reducing dialogue as well as HIV testing.
  • Sex Ed is currently working on their root cause of fear, discomfort with youth sexuality — particularly as this pertains to youth of color — as it continues to work to support the equitable implementation of the new Boston Public Schools (BPS) Wellness Policy that was approved by the Boston School Committee last June. This new policy, that C2P members worked hard to advocate for, details the requirement for comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive health education in grades K – 12 and also makes condoms available in all Boston Public High Schools via BPS staff as well as Boston Public Health Commission School personnel and/or community partners as applicable. C2P Boston’s Sex Ed Subcommittee continues to collaborate with the BPS Health and Wellness Department and Wellness Council and is also working to engage more youth and parents in holding BPS accountable to equitably implement this policy throughout the  BPS school system.
  • Linkage to Care is currently working to address the systemic marginalization of Black/African American and Latino populations seeking resources from social institutions through working on structural change initiatives that address the housing, criminal justice, health care and social service systems and seek to create more culturally competent linkage, engagement and retention in care supports for HIV infected and affected youth.
  • DCF is currently working to address DCF’s lack of addressing the virtue of placing youth with kin by advocating for training of current foster families and creating a tracking system for families who are willing and capable of competently housing LGBTQ-identified youth and building towards advocating for family acceptance work with kin for LGBTQ-identified youth engaged in the foster care system.

The C2P Boston mailing list is now over 200 people strong and contains youth and community members as well as representatives from community based organizations/AIDS service organizations, community health centers/hospitals, public health departments/governmental agencies, the educational sector, faith communities, the criminal justice system and advocacy organizations.

To hear more about C2P Boston or to get involved in our efforts, please contact Liz Salomon, EdM, Project Director at lsalomon@fenwayhealth.org or 617.927.6262.

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