Stopping the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hep C requires developing and implementing creative, viable, culturally appropriate programs and policies that reflect the needs and concerns of the communities most affected and infected—the communities they are designed to help. That means accounting for and addressing the daily, real-life challenges faced by people in those communities, including underlying and systemic health, socioeconomic, and environmental challenges such as access to fair employment, a good education, primary medical care, and substance abuse and pregnancy prevention programs.
To accomplish this, CEG asks critical questions of the communities that we represent and serve, including people of color, ex-offenders, sex workers, substance users, and transgender individuals. Our goal is to make sure their concerns inform the direction of our program development and advocacy, and to provide the right tools so that individuals and agencies that have traditionally been underserved by the medical and social service fields can identify their own needs, implement effective and sustainable measures, and create change at the local level.
Many organizations conduct research, or offer direct services such as testing and needle exchange, or focus on policy education and advocacy. By operating in all of these spaces, training locals, and collaborating with area partners, CEG has been able to excel in community engagement—which is crucial for developing and implementing effective programs and policies. As a result, we are able to replicate our on-the-ground efforts across geographic lines, health issues, and populations.