In our everyday fight to continue to educate our communities about HIV and AIDS it’s sometimes easy to over-look the “minority” groups within the population of those infected with either disease. In my search to find more outstanding organizations to spotlight here, I found the “Deaf AIDS Project” in Maryland, located in the cities of Landover Hills, Baltimore, Laurel, Frederick and Salisbury. When I first saw the word ‘deaf’ a lightbulb went off in my head and I had sort of an “oh yeah” moment. People who are deaf contract HIV too and have a different set of needs that need to be met. This Maryland organization is focused on those needs.
Like most prevention and awareness organizations, The Deaf AIDS project began as a response to a dire need for education about HIV/AIDS in the deaf community. Created in 1990, the mission was/is to “educate the deaf and hard of hearing community about HIV, methods of transference and resources available to HIV-positive clients and their families.” A major problem communities are facing is that care and concern about the deaf community as it relates to HIV is very limited. I think the stigma and misconception is that people with handicaps or disabilities are less likely to contract HIV. Recent data shows that deaf people are on average twice as likely to contract HIV as their hearing counterparts. This organization in Maryland recognizes that and is taking a stand to do something about it. Not only does the Deaf AIDS Project educate those infected with HIV but also community members, health care providers and interpreters.
Their services include:
- Free HIV testing
- Condom distribution
- Group presentations
- Individual sessions
It’s refreshing and eye-opening to see organizations like this that focus on the needs and wants of communities that are often over-looked in the fight against HIV/AIDS. For more information, feel free to visit www.deafnonprofit.net.